Presidential Term Limits in African post-Cold War Democracies: The Role of Political Elites
Anyaeze, Reginald Chima
Why have attempts to repeal presidential term limits succeeded in some African countries and failed in others? What measures and pressures were required to demand and enforce presidential term limits compliance? The lack of precise and effective strategy to enforce term limits compliance seems to expose term limits to incipient repeals by incumbent presidents in Africa.\ud My field observation in various African democracies shows that the parliament, the judiciary, democracy movements and the international community, though occasionally influential, have not played a decisive role in enforcing term limits compliance in Africa. Their roles rather appear to be dependent on elite dissidence, resistance, sponsorship and sometimes manipulation. My fieldwork in Zambia, Nigeria and Malawi reveals the critical influence and role of political elites in mobilizing and converging pressures to demand and enforce compliance. These cases further find that a compliance outcome becomes possible if individual political elites choose to resist any incumbent president seeking to repeal term limits. The ability of dissenting elites to provide an alternative platform for the convergence of other pressures raise the cost of repression for presidents and force them to compliance. \ud Since othe pressures achor around elite dissidence, the position of some political elites either for or against the removal of term limits explains why some presidents have succeeded and why others failed in repealing term limits in Africa.
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