President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has called on West African leaders to stick to their constitutional term limits.
“It is important that as leaders of our individual member states of ECOWAS, we need to adhere to the constitutional provisions of our countries, particularly on term limits. This is one area that generates crisis and political tension in our sub-region,” he said.
He made the comments during an in-person summit of leaders of the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), held in Niamey in Niger.
President Buhari’s comments follow decisions by President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea’s president, Alpha Condé, to run for third terms in their respective countries.
Ouattara said he would seek re-election in October, formally accepting the ruling party’s nomination to be its candidate.
Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term following the sudden death of his preferred successor, triggered protests in Côte d’Ivoire.
However, Ivorian opposition parties say the move is unconstitutional.
Violent protests have also been witnessed in neighbouring Guinea, where the 82-year-old Alpha Condé is seeking a controversial third term as president in October.
The one-day ECOWAS summit was attended by eight heads of state, including the presidents of Burkina Faso, Ghana and Senegal.
Other topics covered included the ongoing political crisis in Mali. The leaders called for a swift transition to civilian rule in the country following a military coup on 18 August.
The regional bloc has already imposed sanctions on Mali and asked for elections to take place within a year.
Meanwhile, Mali’s toppled president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, flew out of the country late on Saturday for treatment in the United Arab Emirates.
The junta said Keïta must return to Mali in the next three months after receiving medical treatment abroad, a time limit agreed with ECOWAS, it said.
It was the first in-person regional summit in more than six months. West African leaders have been meeting virtually in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.