Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has slammed the two-term limit imposed on African leaders, but at the same time made fun of Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza’s third-term bid.
Speaking at the opening session of the African Union assembly of heads of state in Sandton on Sunday afternoon “we [in Africa] put a rope around our own neck and say leaders must only have two terms”.
Mugabe, who is serving his seventh term, but his first under Zimbabwe’s new constitution which restricts him to two terms, added that leaders in Europe did not face the same term limits, yet they are still considered to be democracies.
“It is a democracy, if people want a leader to continue, let him continue,” he said, adding that two terms could feel as short as two weeks.
But he warned against causing instability by seeking more than two terms.
He appeared to make fun of Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza, who said his first term shouldn’t count towards his constitutional two-term limit because he was chosen by parliament and not by the people. “They say the first term was not a real term. But you were there for five years!” Mugabe said.
There have been calls from within AU member states for Nkurunziza not to seek a third term, while the AU’s Peace and Security Council last night called for an urgent intervention in Burundi to prevent the conflict around the upcoming elections from deteriorating into civil war.