Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Saturday reiterated his rejection of calls from within the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to extend his rule beyond the constitutional limit.
Nicknamed “the Bulldozer” for his strict leadership style, Magufuli has won praise for his tough anti-corruption fight. For months, the opposition has alleged a shadow campaign to change the constitution and extend Magufuli’s term.
A statement from the Directorate of Presidential Communication said the president was disappointed by ongoing discussion by CCM members and Tanzanians in general calling for the extension of presidential terms from five years to seven years.
“President Magufuli appealed to Tanzanians to ignore such calls because the issue of presidential term extension has never been discussed by top organs of the ruling party,” said the statement.
The statement said Magufuli has no plans to extend his leadership tenure when the constitutional limit of two five-year terms ends in 2025.
Magufuli was elected in 2015 succeeding President Jakaya Kikwete. His current term expires in 2020 when new elections will be held, and if re-elected, he will serve until 2025.
Tanzania, one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most stable democracies, has held five relatively peaceful multi-party elections since 1995, all won by the ruling party.
Such an ammendment was against the party’s rules and the constitution of Tanzania, the statement said, adding that Magufuli does not plan to make the change “at any time during his presidency”.
The announcement came after some members of his party called for Magufuli, to make the change so he could potentially remain in power for 14 years — two seven-year terms.
The issue of altering constitutions to extend the rule of leaders is contentious in Africa, where numerous heads of state are suspected of wanting to use such techniques to hold onto power for decades.