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The Long Game: African Leaders and the Art of Constitutional Manipulation

Context Setting the stage and providing background information

The visual Description and analysis of the visual representation

Observations Notable findings and insights derived from the visual

Omissions Elements or data points not included in the visual

The data Sources and details regarding the data used in the visual

Reflections Personal thoughts and considerations on the subject matter


African leaders are known to manipulate constitutions to remain in power. This practice raises questions about the state of democracy and governance on the African continent, prompting closer examination of the phenomenon through visual representations like the one presented here.

The visual

This graphic is a timeline depicting how African leaders amend constitutions to extend their rule. The timeline is useful for helping us understand how often the manipulation of constitutions occurs in African countries."


The visual presents current African leaders and their constitutional changes aimed at prolonging their tenure. Some of the biggest offenders include President Mbasogo in Equatorial Guinea, President Paul Biya in Cameroon, and President Nguesso in the Republic of Congo. Additionally, Museveni, Guelleh, and Kagame are not far behind.


While I initially planned to cover all leaders who manipulated constitutions, this proved impractical. I realized it would be much too lengthy, going back to figures like Gaddafi and Mugabe.

Not included in this visual are monarchic leaders such as King Mohammed VI of Morocco, who has been in power since 1999, and King Mswati III of Eswatini, in power since 1986. We also don't see President Afwerki of Eritrea, who has been in power for over 30 years with no term limits.

The data

Data and inspiration for this infographic came from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. They put together a great overview with a clear table and a map here. Wikipedia also aided in historical accuracy.


What are your thoughts on this phenomenon? Does it appear to be a growing or diminishing trend?



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