Presidential Term Limits and the African Union
A growing number of states have modified constitutionally determined presidential term limits or adopted a flexible interpretation of relevant constitutional provisions to allow incumbent leaders additional terms in the highest office. This article investigates African Union (AU) responses to attempts to overturn or weaken term limits on executive power, one of the most tenacious constitutional trends in Africa. Inspired by the AU's well-established discourse on “unconstitutional changes of government” under the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the article frames the manipulation of presidential term limits as “undemocratic changes of the constitution”. From this perspective it argues for a more active role for the AU in monitoring and enforcing constitutionalism and respect for democratic standards by member states when they amend their constitution. It concludes with a tentative set of principles to guide processes of constitutional change in Africa.