There is a notable trend where African leaders are beginning to respect the constitution, handing over power rather than hanging onto power.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s announcement that he will step down in 2020, when he finishes his current term is a notable case.

President al-Bashir told the BBC that, “In 2020, there will be a new president and I will be an ex-president”.

al-Bashir has been in power since leading a coup in 1989 and if he  steps down in 2020, he would have been in power for 31 years. Al Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The announcement by al-Bashir comes on the heels of another unexpected revelation by Africa’s second longest-serving leader, Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos that he will step down in 2018, having been president since 1979.

While these declarations are welcome, there are concerns over the sincerity of the revealed pledge and questions whether al-Bashir and dos Santos would not rescind on the decision to step down.

The news come as a big surprise considering African leaders have a tendency of changing their country’s constitution and extending presidential terms.

There have only been a handful of leaders who have voluntarily ceded power or resisted the temptation to change the constitution to allow them to contest again, prompting the question, why do African leaders cling onto power instead of handing power?

Source: BBC