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Virtual Conference on  Term Limits in Africa: 2020 in Retrospective

December 15 - 17, 2020

Online Event

From December 15-17, The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and its partners the African Forum, the Open Society Initiative (OSI), and the Kofi Annan Foundation (KAF) will organize a Virtual Conference on Constitutional Term Limits.

The virtual conference will focus on: “A retrospective look at 2020 and the road ahead.” This event will feature a diverse set of panelists who will analyze the current state of constitutionalism in Africa and attempt to define the path forward, especially in light of continuous and widespread citizen support for term limits and the rule of law.

The event will bring together constitutional experts, civil society activists, representatives from regional institutions, and former Heads of State from around the continent to take part in this important conversation. It is clear that the issue of constitutional term limits remains a priority, now more than ever.


Panel I: Why Term Limits Matter

December 15, 14:00-16:00 GMT


Ichumile Gqada, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)


Boniface Dulani, Director of Surveys, Afrobarometer

Aminata Touré, Former Prime Minister of Senegal

Arnold Tsunga, NDI Resident Country Director (Zimbabwe)

Adem Abebe, Executive Committee Member, African Network of Constitutional Lawyers

Panel I focused on why term limits matter and the socio-political and economic impacts of term limits. Panelists also discussed the socio-political and economic consequences experienced in countries that lack presidential term limits or where existing presidential term limits are not respected. Panelists further spoke to how researchers and constitutional scholars could promote respect for constitutional term limits across the continent and advocate for term limits in countries where they do not currently exist.

Panel II: Building Popular Support for Term Limits - 2020 in Retrospect

December 16, 14:00-15:30 GMT


Idayat Hassan, Center for Democracy and Development


Ben Nyabira, Katiba Institute

Brice Mackosso, Tournons la Page-Congo

Cheikh Fall, Africtivistes

Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner and #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now

Alioune Tine, Afrikajom Center

During Panel II, panelists reflected on the evolution of constitutional term limits in their regional contexts over the course of 2020 and what strategies their organizations have employed to respond to this evolution. Panelists shared lessons learned from their term limits related programming and offer their vision for how future programming will evolve in 2021. Panelists also discussed best practices and lessons learned in advocating for term limits across national, and linguistic boundaries. 

Panel III: The Role of Regional Institutions in Protecting Term Limits

December 17, 14:00-15:30 GMT


Arnauld Akodjenou, Kofi Annan Foundation


H.E. Joyce Banda, Former President of Malawi

Calixte Mbari, Democracy, Governance, Human Rights, and Election division of the African Union

Yufnalis Okubo, East African Court of Justice

Darren Bergman, SADC Standing Committee on Democratization, Governance, and Human Rights

Eyesan Okoroduru, Deputy Director, Head of Democracy and Good Governance,  ECOWAS

Panel III discussed the role of the African Union (AU) and the subregional organizations -- ECOWAS, the EAC, SADC -- in safeguarding term limits in countries where respect for term limits is weak or in decline. Panelists discussed the ability of these institutions to uphold democratic norms in member countries, including presidential term limits.  

Closing plenary session: Recommendations of next steps for 2021

December 17, 15:30-16:30 GMT


Gemima Neves Barlow, Deputy Regional Director, NDI

This plenary served as open session during which participants could make recommendations or suggestions for follow on actions and activities by NDI and partner organizations as well as by regional and continent-wide organizations.

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