The longtime president of Republic of Congo said Tuesday he is going ahead with a national referendum on whether to change the country’s constitution, a move that critics say will allow him to prolong his rule by raising the current maximum age limit to serve as president. If the vote goes ahead, it would be the latest test in Africa of whether a president can bend the rules to keep his position without being forced from office.
The president of Burkina Faso ultimately was ousted in a popular uprising after he tried to modify the constitution in parliament so he could stay in office longer than the 27 years he had already served. Opposition to a third term also has sparked violence in Burundi, where the president ultimately won re-election in a vote despite opposition claims that his candidacy was unconstitutional.
While no date was yet given for the referendum in Republic of Congo, President Denis Sassou N’Guesso said ultimately voters — not him — would choose whether the constitution should be changed.