[JURIST] Government officials in the Republic of the Congo on Monday announced a referendum on an amendment to the constitution [text, PDF, in French] that could allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his term in office. The proposed amendment allows presidents to renew their term twice and removes the age limit for presidential candidates, currently set at 70. Nguesso, who is 72 and serving his second term, would be ineligible for the presidency without the amendment. Before being elected to office in 2002, he also served as president from 1979 to 1992. The proposed amendment will be put to a vote [AFP report] on October 25.
The extension of presidencies has been an issue in many African nations. Beginning in January, protests and demonstrations [JURIST report] took place across the Democratic Republic of the Congo to oppose the proposed changes in the law that would allow President Joseph Kabila to extend his presidential term past the allotted two-year limit. Protests broke out earlier this year in Burundi after President Pierre Nkunrunziza announced he would run for a third term in office, and intensified [JURIST report] when a court said that he could run for a third term without violating the nation’s constitution.