Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has set May 17 as the referendum date for a controversial constitutional reform, according to a presidential decree signed on Sunday March 18. The election could allow President Nkurunziza, 54, who has been in office since 2005, to remain in power until 2034. The decree specifies that the reform will be adopted if the proportion of favorable votes is 50% plus one vote, and that parties or individuals wishing to participate in the campaign for or against this reform must register with the Independent National Electoral Commission ( CENI) between March 23 and April 6.
Rwandans voted overwhelmingly to support changes to the constitution that would allow President Paul Kagame to extend his term in office, possibly until 2034, provisional results showed on Saturday. Kagame, 58, would be able to run again in 2017 after his second term ends. He has been president since 2000 but effectively in control since his rebel force marched into Kigali in 1994 to end a genocide. “The electoral commission declares in public that 98.3 percent of voting Rwandans accepted the constitution as amended in 2015,” National Electoral Commission chairman Kalisa Mbanda told a news conference after Friday’s vote. Mbanda rejected a statement issued on Friday by the local European Union delegation that there was no independent monitoring in place during the vote.
The National Assembly passed a constitutional amendment Thursday to lift Ecuador’s presidential term limits as violent street protests escalated against what many demonstrators deemed a power grab by President Rafael Correa. Part of a package of amendments, the measure will permit the leftist Correa to run for the office indefinitely beginning in 2021. His current term ends in 2017 and he has said he does not intend to run at that time. Analysts have called Correa’s decision a shrewd political move considering Ecuador’s current economic woes.
Is eight years enough? For Hialeah Sen. Rene Garcia, a Republican, and West Palm Beach Rep. Mark Pafford, a Democrat, the answer is “no” — if Floridians want to diminish the influence of special interests in the Legislature. Rep. Mark Pafford, shown speaking to reporters during the 2015 AP Florida Legislative Planning Session in October, is a sponsor of a bill that would extend term limits to 12 years from 8.
Republican Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah, right, is a sponsor of a bill that would extend term limits to 12 years from 8. Rep. Mark Pafford, shown speaking to reporters during the 2015 AP Florida Legislative Planning Session in October, is a sponsor of a bill that would extend term limits to 12 years from 8. “We are a representative democracy and we should be making sure that it is the elected officials who move agendas forward, and not the lobbyists,” said Garcia, who was elected to the Senate unopposed in 2010 and 2012 after serving eight years in the House.
Hate when politicians from the far left and far right fight over extreme proposals with little incentive to compromise? Then, Issue 1 is for you, a long list of proponents say. If voters approve the ballot initiative this November, Ohio could become a nationwide leader on how to draw lines for state lawmakers’ districts, said Michael Li, an elections expert at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. The much-maligned process of allowing lawmakers draw Rorschach test-like districts to ensure a win for their party could end — or at least become less egregious — with this first-of-its-kind proposal, he said. “People are really watching Ohio very closely,” Li said.
Last May, I shared in an extraordinary moment. I had the privilege, together with many leaders from across Africa, of bearing witness to the first peaceful, democratic transition of power between two parties in Nigeria. I traveled to Lagos earlier this year to emphasize that for the United States, Nigeria is an increasingly important strategic partner with a critical role to play in the security and prosperity of the region. I also said that it was imperative that these elections set a new standard for democracy across the continent. There is no question that this is a decisive moment for democracy in Africa. Later this month, four countries – Guinea, Tanzania, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Central African Republic – are scheduled to hold presidential elections, and soon after we hope to see elections in Burkina Faso. People across Africa must seize this opportunity to make their voices heard; and leaders across the continent must listen. The challenges are real. For decades, poverty, famine, war, and authoritarian leadership have held back an era of African prosperity and stability. These and other challenges should not be underestimated, but neither should we ignore the gains that are being made.
Congo Republic’s government announced on Tuesday it would hold a referendum this month on constitutional change, in a move that could allow veteran President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his decades-long rule. The 71-year-old former military commander has ruled Congo Republic, an oil producer, for all but five years since 1979. He won his previous terms in disputed elections in 2002 and 2009. While Sassou Nguesso has not officially declared his candidacy for the June 2016 presidential election, he is widely expected to seek a third term. The constitution of 2002 limits the number of terms to two and excludes candidates over 70.
The government of the Republic of Congo has called a referendum October 25 on a proposed constitutional amendment to allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for a third term. The proposed amendment, announced Monday after a cabinet meeting, also would abolish an upper age limit of 70 for presidential candidates. President Sassou Nguesso is 72 and is barred by the current constitution from seeking another term. Last month, the president announced he was planning the referendum, a move that brought thousands of people out to demonstrate in the capital, Brazzaville.
Last-ditch talks between Burundi’s government and opposition aimed at resolving a major political crisis over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial re-election bid appear to be headed for failure, sources close to the negotiations said. The closed-door talks, mediated by regional power Uganda, began earlier in the day but quickly descended into an acrimonious exchange with no sign of any consensus on how to end months of turmoil in the central African nation.
Despite widespread international condemnation, bitter opposition within his own country and the threat of violent revolt, President Pierre Nkurunziza struck a defiant tone at a campaign rally Friday on a mountaintop near where government forces recently battled rebels. “The attempt of armed groups to destabilize the country did not last as long as the morning dew,” he said in his speech in Cibitoke, a province in the northwest near the border with Rwanda, citing the governing party’s victory in parliamentary elections as proof of widespread support, though the opposition boycotted the vote. “The people in all the provinces, all the counties, all the hills and all the fields, went to vote,” he said. “You have done well. And now tell each other what is ahead and that you will have to do even more.”