If the debate on the third term is regularly revived in Africa, it is in particular because of the vagueness maintained by certain constitutions.
Since its appearance in a French magazine, Senegalese President Macky Sall has revived the debate on the third term in Africa. Before him, it was the Ivorian head of state Alassane Ouattara who had to convince public opinion of the legality of a third term. Disregarding the political, moral and ethical aspects, the outgoing presidents who apply for a third term all have one thing in common: they ensure the legality of their approach. Although their respective constitutions limit terms to two, they assure that this only takes effect from the constitutional amendment.
If they are sure of themselves, and their opinion is often confirmed by the Constitutional Councils, the debates are very often heated. The fault of Constitutions that are a little too vague. “In Côte d'Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara had sent his ministers on television sets to hammer home the message that the constitutional change had given birth to a Third Republic and that everything that had happened before should not be taken into account. account", recalls an Ivorian specialist in constitutional law. In Senegal, Macky Sall's argument, if he wants to stand for a new term, could be the same.
As our colleagues fromafrik.com, if there is a president who will not be able to use this subterfuge, it will be Benin. Since 2019, in fact, article 42 of the Constitution has been modified. If it specifies, as before the constitutional amendment, that "the President of the Republic is elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term, renewable only once", a clarification comes to cut short any debate: the article indicates now that a Beninese president cannot exercise more than two mandates "of his life". In other words, there is no history of a new Republic in Benin, a head of state will never be able to serve a third term without breaking the law.