President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf is nearing the end of her presidency, with about a year plus to go. The Liberian leader says her people wouldn’t allow a third term bid. Moreover, she said the constitution of Liberia does not allow a third term from a sitting president, who has already served two terms.
Additionally, she indicated that age has caught up with her and that it was time to leave at the end of her tenure. In an interview with the Financial Times, Published on March 18, 2016, President Johnson-Sirleaf said she’s preparing for her succession and hoped that it would be done right. Staying in power beyond constitutional mandate in Africa is not much of a problem across the continent.
Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, won a predictable landslide victory in a disputed election marred by violence and an opposition boycott in July 2015. Nkurunziza is expected to serve a third five-year term, having won 69.41% of the vote, 50 percentage points ahead of his leading opponent, Agathon Rwasa. Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced in December 2015 that he would seek a third term in 2017, confirming a decision that was widely speculated before his announcement.
Despite warning from the United States for him to abandon his third term ambition, President Kagame said he would go ahead. Kagame has been president since 2000 but he has effectively been in control since his rebel force marched into Kigali to end the 1994 genocide. He was originally limited to two terms, but in 2015 Rwanda approved changes to the constitution that would effectively allow Kagame to stay in power until 2034, if he wins.
Unlike Kagame, President Sirleaf has got no choice and couldn’t have changed the constitution; attempt of which could have been politically catastrophic. Liberians are not enthusiastic over any proposition for the president’s third, a political commentator said.
The President’s Vice President, Joseph Boakai and her former Foreign Minister Dr. Toga McIntosh Gayewea, both from the ruling Unity Party have announced their intentions for the nation’s top post. Boakai was petitioned last year to contest the presidency, and Dr. Gayewea, fresh from ECOWAS assignment recently announced that he would contest the presidency as well.
President Sirleaf has announced support for Boakai’s presidential bid, but no public declaration as yet for Gayewea. In the Financial Times interview, President Sirleaf said she has done extremely well for Liberians; taking the nation from a failed state to the current status now being enjoyed by all Liberians.
This is undeniably a fact; no Liberian can challenge this. It was President Sirleaf who took Liberia out of that ugly picture of the past,” Joseph Gayeazon, a freshman student at the University of Liberia said. “…I know that history will judge me the best president up until this point. Better than Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor,” the president confidently told the Financial Times reporter.