Stopping the President: Why Conflicts Over Presidential Term Limits in Africa and Latin America Are so Explosive



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  • In November 2019, thousands swept the streets of Conakry, Guinea, in protest against Alpha Condé’s plans to eliminate the country’s constitutional presidential two-term limit. Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, Bolivia’s Evo Morales was forced into resigning from a fourth presidential term by popular and military pressure. These are only recent examples of incumbents seeking to extend their time in office by any means possible. In presidential systems of government, constitutional term limits provide an important check on presidential power. Yet, since the late 1990s, Africa and Latin America have been hit by a fervour for changing or doing away with term limits in order to prolong presidents’ time in office. However not all attempts have been successful. In this GIGA Talk, we will discuss why the conflicts over presidential term limits matter so much for democracy, and what implications they have for the international community in dealing with these domestic struggles.

    Speakers: Dr. Charlotte Heyl is a Research Fellow at the GIGA Institute for African Affairs. Her research focuses on democratisation, presidential term limits, constitutional courts, and elections in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Dr. Mariana Llanos is Lead Research Fellow at the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies. She works on comparative political institutions, with a special focus on Latin American presidential systems.

    Comment: Ottmar von Holtz is Member of the German Bundestag and Chair of the Bundestag's Sub-Committee on Civil Crisis Prevention, Conflict Management and Connected Action.

    Dr. Peter Woeste (Federal Foreign Office) is Diplomat in Residence and a Fellow at the GIGA Institute for African Affairs.

    Moderation: Prof. Dr. Bert Hoffmann is Head of the GIGA Berlin Office and a Senior Research Fellow at the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies.


    GIGA Berlin, Berlin




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