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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari reaffirmed he will leave office in 2023, addressing concerns he wants to change the constitution to seek a third term.
Buhari, 77, won a second four-year mandate in March, the last he’s permitted under the constitution of Africa’s largest oil producer. With speculation already mounting over who the ruling All Progressives Council and opposition People’s Democratic Party will select to fight the next presidential contest, Buhari has repeatedly rebuffed suggestions that he plans to compete.
“I will be standing down in 2023 and will not be available in any future elections,” Buhari said in a New Year’s letter to Nigerians published on Wednesday. “But I am determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across the region.”
Nigeria’s rules make it difficult to modify the constitution. Any amendment requires backing from two-thirds of lawmakers in both chambers of parliament, as well as the approval of the House of Assembly in at least 24 of the country’s 36 states.
Other aging west African leaders have recently indicated they’re considering staying on beyond two-term limits.
Guinea’s Alpha Conde, 81, announced a plan this month to introduce a new constitution that could enable him to extend his rule. And Ivory Coast’s leader, Alassane Ouattara, 77, has said he’ll stand for a third term if certain candidates from his generation also run, and that a constitutional change made in 2016 allows him to do so.
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