Discussion Papers

No.783 Introduction of Presidential Term Limits in Dominant-party States in Sub-Saharan Africa

by Machiko Tsubura

March 2020


Since the arrival of the ‘third wave’ of democratisation in sub-Saharan Africa (hereinafter referred to as Africa) in the late 1980s, presidential term limits have been included in a number of constitutions in the region to institutionalise the transfer of power from one president to another. The present paper analyses how dominant-party states in Africa with regular presidential succession have introduced presidential term limits. Through this analysis, the paper explores whether the introduction of presidential term limits was aimed at establishing a party-based rule by guaranteeing a mechanism of leadership rotation within ruling parties, thereby maintaining party coherence. The examination of four dominant-party states in Africa demonstrates that the aims of the introduction of presidential term limits vary among four countries. Moreover, a party-based rule in these countries was established not merely because of the adoption of presidential term limits but by other factors over time.

Keywords: presidential term limits, dominant-party states

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