A Study on the Relationship Between Presidential Term Limts and the Doctrine of Separation of Powers in Uganda
- A Study on the Relationship Between Presidential Term Limts and the Doctrine of Separation of Powers in Uganda
- MUHWEZI, Stilson
- Issue Date
- KDI School of Public Policy and Management
- Presidential term limits are a measure through which citizens prevent the retention of a
popular president or a leader from becoming a perpetual dictator. The clamour for democracy in recent years has tremendously changed the way many people aspire to be governed.Universal democratic values, including presidential term limits, are widely accepted.
However, many presidents around the world have prolonged their stay in power after the expiry of their constitutionally allowed terms by amending the constitution, sometimes by using a rubber-stamp legislature or a referendum. Consequently, the initial purpose of having
term limits in the first place？to prevent a dictatorship？has been defeated. The practice of amending or disregarding the constitution for the sake of a particular incumbent does harm to the development of democratic institutions and governance based on the rule of law. This
paper reviews the normative debate over presidential term limits and identifies the key claims of proponents and opponents. It focuses on Uganda, Venezuela, Cameroon and Egypt as key examples where absence of term limits has in one way or the other skewed the balance of power in favour of the executive, leading to a dictatorship. The study then considers alternatives measures that a country like Uganda can take to minimize the tendency of executive dictatorship in the absence of term limits. However, this study concludes that there is no perfect substitute for term limits especially in a young democracy where fragile institutions need to be nurtured. As a way forward, the study recommends that the people of Uganda, together with their representatives, should seriously consider a future where term limits are restored and strict constitutional guarantees put in place to avoid the past mistakes.
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