President Xi Jinping set China on course to follow his hard-line authoritarian rule far into the future on Sunday, when the national legislature lifted the presidential term limit and gave constitutional backing to expanding the reach of the Communist Party. Under the red-starred dome of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, nearly 3,000 delegates of the National People’s Congress, the party-controlled legislature, voted almost unanimously to approve an amendment to the Constitution to abolish the term limit on the presidency, opening the way for Mr. Xi to rule indefinitely. The amendment was among a set of 21 constitutional changes approved by the congress, which included passages added to the Constitution to salute Mr. Xi and his drive to entrench party supremacy.
U.S. President Donald Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping Saturday after the ruling Communist party announced it was eliminating the two-term limit for the presidency, paving the way for Xi to serve indefinitely, according to audio aired by CNN. “He’s now president for life, president for life. And he’s great,” Trump said, according to audio of excerpts of Trump’s remarks at a closed-door fundraiser in Florida aired by CNN.“And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday,” Trump said to cheers and applause from supporters. It is not clear if Trump, 71, was making the comment about extending presidential service in jest. The White House did not respond to a request for comment late Saturday.
In a rare public expression of dissent in China, a well-known political commentator and a prominent businesswoman have penned open letters urging lawmakers to reject a plan that would allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely. Their impassioned statements on a popular messaging app were circulated widely after the ruling Communist Party announced a proposal Sunday to amend the constitution to scrap term limits on the president and vice president. In a statement Monday on WeChat to Beijing’s members of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, Li Datong, a former editor for the state-run China Youth Daily, wrote that lifting term limits would “sow the seeds of chaos.”
China’s ruling party is considering scrapping term limits for the president and vice president, it announced on Sunday. The Communist party of China has proposed to change the country’s constitution so that the president and vice president can serve more than two consecutive terms. Currently, there is a limit of two five-year terms for both presidents and vice presidents. The amendment would allow current President Xi Jinping, 64, to be elected again during the next elections in 2023.
Debate on age limits and term length for the president of Uganda came to a sudden halt Tuesday when a lawmaker reported seeing soldiers on the premises. The allegation led to a scuffle between legislators and parliamentary police. The legislature was already on edge because of the proposals being discussed. Parliament is debating a bill that would abolish the age limit for 75 presidential candidates, a move that would enable longtime President Yoweri Museveni to run for another term in the 2021 election. Opposition lawmakers and some members of the ruling party object to the bill, and debate that began Monday has been tumultuous. On Monday, shouting and chair-throwing forced Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to suspend six members of parliament.
Bolivia’s socialist President Evo Morales on Wednesday hailed a decision by the country’s highest court to allow him to run for another re-election as “a great surprise for the people, for the revolutionaries, for the anti-imperialists.” The opposition said it would march against the ruling announced on Tuesday by the Constitutional Court, which paved the way for Morales to run for a fourth term in 2019. The court decision was final and cannot be appealed. The ruling “guarantees a democratic continuity, but also guarantees stability, dignity and work for the Bolivian people,” Morales said during a news conference.
A huge rally for constitutional reform has taken place in Togo, a country presided over by one family for the past half-century. Opponents of the government want President Faure Gnassingbe to “leave by the front door.” Tens of thousands of protesters wearing the colors of Togo’s opposition parties – red, orange and pink – marched through the Togolese capital, Lome, on Wednesday. Some carried aloft placards bearing slogans including “Free Togo” and denouncing the Gnassingbe regime after 50 years in power. Opposition party leader Jean-Pierre Fabre said the demo had been “unprecedented” and estimated that “more than one million people” were on the streets of the capital, Lome.
Paraguay’s lower house of Congress on Wednesday rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed for presidential re-election, ending a month-long political crisis that aroused violent protests. Under the measure, center-right President Horacio Cartes could have sought re-election in 2018. But last week, the former soft drinks and tobacco mogul who took office in 2013 said he would not run regardless of whether the amendment was approved.
Security forces surrounded Paraguay’s Congress on Tuesday while lawmakers argued over a possible change in law that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election, a move that the opposition says would weaken democratic institutions. Hundreds took to the streets of the capital in opposition-led protests of the proposed change, though no incidents of violence were reported. Police remained outside the building well into the evening, and streets surrounding the Congress and presidential palace remained closed off. A bill allowing presidents to run for a second five-year term was defeated in the legislature last year.
Of all the promises made on the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump’s vow to pass a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on members of Congress might be the most daunting. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed the idea out of hand the day after Trump’s stunning victory. A few days later, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) gave the proposal a tepid endorsement as he indicated it would be up to a House committee to consider Trump’s proposal. The reticence of both Republican leaders on the issue is not surprising, given their long tenures in Congress.