[JURIST] Legislators in Turkmenistan on Wednesday amended [press release, in Russian] the nation’s constitution to allow President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow [Britannica profile], to remain in power indefinitely. Berdimuhamedow praised the amendment[Reuters report], which not only extended the presidential term by two years, from five to seven, but also removed the 70-year age limit to be an eligible candidate. President Saparmurat Niyazov, Berdimuhamedow’s predecessor remained in power until his death in 2006.
The extension of presidencies has been an issue in many nations, including Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Earlier this year UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] African leaders to avoid using loopholes and undemocratic constitutional changes to “cling to power.” Violence in Burundi began in the wake of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would seek a third term of office, which he was voted into [JURIST report] last year. Earlier this year the UN High Commission for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, warned [JURIST report] of increasing violence in Burundi. Last year the UN Human Rights Council approved [JURIST report] a resolution to dispatch experts to investigate human rights violations in Burundi, condemning violence in the country, use of excessive force by officials and restrictions on freedoms. In October the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) electoral commission announced [JURIST report] that voters have approved an amendment to the constitution that would allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his term in office. In January of last year protests and demonstrations [JURIST report] took place across the DRC 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.