Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Monday rejected calls from some of his supporters to extend his rule beyond the constitutional limit of two, five-year terms, bucking a trend in the region.
Several leaders including Ugandaâ€™s President Yoweri Museveni, Rwandaâ€™s Paul Kagame and Burundiâ€™s Pierre Nkurunziza have all tinkered with or defied their constitutions to extend their rule.
â€śItâ€™s impossible. I will respect the constitution,â€ť Magufuli told a public rally in the coastal Tanzanian town of Tanga after a member of parliament from the ruling CCM party called for an extension of his rule to at least 20 years.
â€śI have sworn to defend the constitution … I shall play my part and pass on the leadership reins to the next president when the time comes.â€ť
Tanzania, one of sub-Saharan Africaâ€™s most stable democracies, has held five relatively peaceful multi-party elections since 1995, all won by the ruling party.
Magufuli was elected in October 2015 for his first term and he has not indicated whether he will seek re-election at the next polls in 2020. But if he does and wins, he would then be ineligible to contest the vote in 2025.
Some opposition leaders say there is a shadow campaign being carried out by Magufuliâ€™s supporters to find ways of prolonging his rule beyond the two terms.
Former president, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, from the ruling CCM party, who himself served only terms in 1985-1995, first publicly raised the idea in June.
â€śIf it wasnâ€™t for term limits, I would have suggested that Magufuli should be our president for eternity,â€ť Mwinyi told a cheering crowd in Tanzaniaâ€™s commercial capital Dar es Salaam at the time.
Nicknamed â€śthe Bulldozerâ€ť for his strict leadership style, Magufuli has won praise from some Western donors for his tough anti-corruption fight.
Opponents, however, accuse him of cracking down on dissent and limiting democratic space. He has denied the allegations, saying he was not a dictator.
The drive to root out corruption has felled ministers, the head of governmentâ€™s anti-graft body, the tax chief and thousands of civil servants.
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