The year 2015 will go down in history as one of elections in Africa. Overall there were thirteen of them. According to observers, eligible voters realized the importance and civic duty to take part in the elections. For the first time in Nigeria’s history, a sitting president was defeated and accepted the outcome of the election. He later willingly handed over power to his main rival. In this case it was Goodluck Jonathan handing over power to Muhammadu Buhari. Six months later it was Burkina Faso’s turn to elect its new leader. Voters endured long queues at polling stations to elect a new leader, knowing that this time their vote counted, unlike in the past three decades under Blaise Compaore’s rule when the results were long certain.
Elsewhere in Burundi violence erupted over President Pierre Nkuruziza’s third term bid in office. Like was the case in 2014 in Burkina Faso, citizens and human rights activists protested in Burundi against their president’s thirst for power as he, with the help of the state apparatus went ahead and run for a third term. His government violently crushed the protests and systematically embarked on a crackdown of the opposition and rights activists. Nkuruziza was again elected in July – many of his critics have since fled the country.
In the constitutions of many African countries, the presidential term is restricted to two, like in Burundi. This does not always hold. “So this contradiction between leaders seeking their third term and protesters and voters standing against that, is certainly an interesting new trend in African politics,” said Jakkie Cilliers, executive director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria.