Creating African synergies against third terms

We have had the Arab Spring which started in January 201with the suicide of Mohamed Bouazzizi in Tunisia and removed President Ben Ali from power.

After Tunisia, Egypt then Libya followed. Some thought that the movement for change would spread in Sub-Sahara. But it did not happen as expected. However it created the hope among many in the region that nothing was impossible.

Firoze Manji and Sokari Ekine referred to the newly created spirit of change as an Africa Awakening in their book published in 2012. There were encouraging stories from Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Mauritania to Sudan passing through Gabon.

In the next five years, there will be 20 African presidents who will have in one way or another to deal with the third term issue.

Marshall van Valen explains in his article Snakes & Leaders: Africa’s political succession published on Friday 20/09/13 in the African Report that

Although it’s clear that most of the veteran presidents contemplating political successions over the next five years are scheming to prolong their grip on power, it is equally clear they will face a better organized and equipped opposition well able to exploit information technology and social media.”

Having learnt from the recent possibilities available for political change in Africa, the question that many ask is how Africans can capitalise on the experiences seen elsewhere on the continent, and seek change in their own country but in a much more co-ordinated way in order to share the learning.

The divisions among Africans have in many areas worked against their own interests. What would for example happen if Rwandans, Ugandans and Congolese worked together to remove their respective dictatorships? As the latter plot their stay in power, their citizens on their part would organize together to get rid of them.

Source: Snakes & Leaders - Africa's political succession. Marshall van Valen/ The African Report

What if the 20 dictators seeking third terms found themselves not only confronted to their own citizens but also to the rest of other Africans who don’t buy into their abuse of power?

To create such platforms of action, people need to communicate and organize accordingly. They need to overcome their narrow approach of thinking that things aren’t interconnected. A dictatorship in a neighbouring country impacts in some ways on lives and leadership in one given country. The same way goes for democratic rule.

An African Coalition Against Third Terms – ACATT would be a concept worth exploring seriously by forces seeking change across the continent. Its advantage on the current situation would be that it would help create synergies for change which are today lacking.

It is true the African Union has dispositions that deal with governments which become unconstitutional by changing the fundamental law to extend the time in office of their leaders. So far these directives have not been very effective as many examples are there to prove that the Union is not having some tangible impact in that area.

While some dictators are strategizing among themselves on how to remain in power, sometimes helped by external powers interested in the status quo, it is time citizens too across the African borders come together to defeat their clinging onto power which does not improve the wellbeing of the populations.

If you have a concrete idea which you think could help Africans stop once for all third terms on the continent, please email


  1. I don’t think that,it’s just clinging themselves onto power,but should be the fact that serving the interests of the citizens,world over (good relations) keep them in the office.Otherwise,serving their own interests would bound them instead & get them out of the offices they hold.This goes along with term limits,they should be respected for conveniences,the habit of extending,or trying to make one into the office(talk of sons),if they deserve well and good through a free and fair way,if not,they should know and out of they own personal experience like they were not enthroned or put by their own parents,like anyone else can be enthroned by God in anyway.For change,it is a common word,but in Africa,change seem to be destruction,I mean;for change to come into existence,there must be violence,destruction,& by the time you’re rebuilding,there comes a claim for change,when will there be sustainable,or else,where will this kind of change get us to?,. My way forward; there must be a committee for elections that is independent & not influenced by the party in power or the person himself in power,rather influenced by welfare of the citizens,they must be also a committee keenly following up that independent election committee so that do relevantly & laws against the abuse of that.

  2. And how better has Libya, Egypt become since the so called ‘revolution’? Some people like this writer and many other whom I personally call ‘enslaved minds’ never cease to amaze me. You call changing from bad to worse a better democracy? How far has African has African countries gone in their journey towards that your politicized demo’? USA is a two century old independence. go back in history and see how old is any African state as an Independent one. We ‘Africans’ are actually doing great.

    “I am entitled to an opinion, this is my personal perspective. Should anyone mind? such an individual has a right too”

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