by John Mukum Mbaku

"Since the early 1990s, there have been significant transformations in political systems in many African countries. These institutional changes have resulted in, for example, the demise of the racially based apartheid system in the Republic of South Africa and the introduction of a nonracial democracy. Many civilian and military dictatorships have fallen, paving the way for the establishment of rule-of-law-based governance systems characterized by constitutionalism and constitutional government, including reforms such as term limits. Nevertheless, many of these countries still struggle to deepen and institutionalize democracy and deal effectively and fully with government impunity, particularly that which is associated with the abuse of executive power and the violation of human rights.

Notably, while presidents in some countries, such as Kenya, Liberia, and Ghana, have abided by their countries’ two-term limit, others have used legislatures subservient to the president to change their constitutions to allow them to stay in power beyond those two terms, and, in some cases, indefinitely. In addition, these and other recent institutional changes have created conditions that make it very difficult for the opposition to participate competitively in elections."

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