Axing Term Limits in China Is a Boon to Would-Be African Despots

The recent move to eliminate presidential term limits in China is music to the ears of many African leaders uninterested in transitioning out of power, and a blow to emerging African governance norms. Coming at a time when the United States lacks both the appetite and credibility to promote good governance, President Xi’s power grab adds a new dimension to the appeal of the “Chinese model” for some African leaders, and strengthens the headwinds faced by those working to entrench democratic institutions. 

From Burundi to Uganda to Cameroon, many African leaders have been resisting term and age limits on their tenures, altering constitutions if necessary and personalizing executive power. “Third termism” has been something of a contagion, and is often justified with arguments about…

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