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Constitutional term limits initiative

The Constitutional Term Limits Initiative was launched by the National Democratic Institute to promote support for constitutional term limits across sub-Saharan Africa through high-level advocacy and citizen mobilization.

Over the past two decades, Africa has made notable progress in achieving democratic and peaceful transitions of executive powers. According to the Africa Forum, more than 40 African presidents have left office democratically and peacefully during this period. Seven of them have been awarded the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Moreover, according to recent Afrobarometer surveys, a majority of the continent’s citizens support term limits and most African Union (AU) member states are in favor of constitutionalism and the rule of law. Nevertheless, a considerable number of leaders across the continent have extended their tenure by altering or eliminating constitutional term limits, and political space is shrinking in others.

Media Interview
We asked

Why are constitutional term limits essential in African democracies? Pourquoi la limitation des mandats présidentiels est-elle essentielle en Afrique?

What message do you have to African Heads of State who seek to cling to power? Quels conseils donneriez-vous aux Chefs d’États qui ne veulent pas quitter le pouvoir?

What message do you have for aspiring African youth? Quel message avez-vous pour les jeunes?

In 2019, The National Democratic Institute launched the Term Limits Initiative to promote support for presidential term limits across sub-Saharan Africa through high-level advocacy and citizen mobilization. Since 2019, the Term Limits Initiative has expanded its network of partners, and now works to provide ongoing financial and technical support to regional civil society movements across Africa as they lead campaigns to promote respect for constitutional term limits.

Promotion of Constitutionalism Through Term Limits in Africa: The Anthology

English Version

French Version

The anthology, prepared by the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers (ANCL), provides an extensive review of the status and impact of presidential term limits in Africa, synthesizing key findings and insights from existing literature and policy discussions. The collection includes several policy papers focused on different aspects of term limits and their enforcement. It begins with an overview of the status of presidential term limits across the continent, followed by an analysis of strategies for protecting these limits against evasion and removal. The anthology also examines the roles of the African Union (AU) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in promoting peaceful political transitions through term limits, highlighting inconsistencies in their enforcement practices. Additional papers discuss the influence of winner-take-all politics, the myth of benevolent dictatorships, and the roles of traditional, religious leaders, women, and youth in upholding term limits. The anthology concludes with case studies from Senegal and the Central African Republic, offering lessons and recommendations for strengthening democratic governance and constitutionalism in Africa.

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