The ‘third term effect’ has dogged the East and Central Africa region, recently catching up with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where Moise Katumbi, one of the staunch supporters of President Joseph Kabila’s Peoples Party for Reconstruction and Development (PPRD) has resigned from the party over attempts to alter the Constitution to allow the President run for a third five-year term.
Katumbi, who also resigned his post as Governor of Katanga Province, has been critical of Kabila’s political machinations to extend his rule beyond 10 years.
“If I have resigned, it’s because I am myself a democrat. I will get together with my brothers, with active forces to save democracy in our country. You know, I have been governor for eight and half years. I want to take a break and then I will be listening to the people so we can have a nice country where democracy will continue to prevail. All Congolese are free to participate in the reinforcement of our young democracy. And I will be here also as a citizen for that,” Katumbi, the owner of TP Mazembe Football Club and one of the DRC’s richest men, was quoted telling BBC.
There have been speculations that Katumbi, a Jewish-Congolese might run for office in 2016 after Kabila’s two terms come to an end.
In the recent past president Kabila has faced several challenges associated with his attempts to amend the Constitution to run for a third term, with opposition party, the UDPS breaking off negotiations for national dialogue on the electoral process.
Also, seven respected politicians, some of them allied to Kabila, recently signed an ‘open letter’ to the President, asking him to respect the Constitution.
The East and Central region is likely to experience serious political shifts since most of its leaders’ mandates are expired or nearing expiry. In Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza was the latest leader to face the wrath of voters in his country, after they thronged the streets of Bujumbura protesting against his third term aspirations.
Also, in Burkina Faso protesters took to the streets last year, kicking out long-serving President Blaise Campoare, while in Uganda Parliament amended the Constitution to remove term limits in 2005. Since then long-serving President Yoweri Museveni has been elected twice, bringing the cumulative number of years he has ruled Uganda to 29, with elections looming in 2016 where he has been endorsed by his party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) as ‘sole candidate’.
Meanwhile, in Rwanda the people there seem content with extending the mandate of President Paul Kagame beyond his two seven-year term which ends in August 2017.