Congo voters approve referendum extending presidential term limits News
Congo voters approve referendum extending presidential term limits

[JURIST] The Republic of the Congo’s electoral commission announced Tuesday that voters have approved an amendment to the constitution [text, PDF, in French] that would allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his term in office. The amendment, approved by the citizens of the Congo in a referendum Sunday, allows presidents to renew [JURIST report] 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. With the referendum approved, Nguesso plans on seeking another term in office in the next election. While officials claim a 72 percent voter turnout in Sunday’s referendum, opposition leaders have said turnout was under 10 percent and have called for results to be annulled [VOA report].

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.