Russia is not the first country where presidential terms are zero. ‘ve done that before in other CIS countries and in South America, and in recent years in Africa. Details tells DW.
The nullification of the presidential term would allow Vladimir Putin twice elected President of Russia and potentially to remain at the highest post in Russia to 2036. This provision in the framework of a package of amendments to the Constitution, according to the CEC, was approved on a vote that took place in Russia from 25 June to 1 July. Earlier changes adopted by the state Duma, the Federation Council and regional parliaments and agreed on the constitutional court of the Russian Federation.
Russia is not the first country where the authorities applied the trick with zeroing, to extend the powers of the incumbent President. Thus the constitutional limitation of the number of terms of the Board formally preserved, but they neglected.
To Putin it recently did in Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In 2019 in this country was a constitutional referendum, which increased his current presidential term from four to six years and simultaneously resets the previous one — from 2014 to 2018. Thus, Al-Sisi, like Putin, in 2024 will be able to run again for the presidency.
Zeroing in Peru has led the President to prison
Pioneers in bypass constitutional limits on number of presidential terms with the zero were the leaders of the countries of South America and the former Soviet Union. In 1996, this option was used by Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, and Alberto Fujimori in Peru. Their fate has developed differently.
Lukashenka’s referendum on changing the country’s basic law, essentially “wrote off” the first two years of his reign. And in 2004, and is conducted through a plebiscite, the abolition of restrictions on presidential terms and still reigns in Belarus.
Fujimori, who became head of Peru in 1990, does not change the Constitution, and initiated in 1996, the adoption of the law in his rubber-stamp Congress directly refuse their terms. In the end, he won the 2000 elections, in which according to the Constitution, could not participate, but amid protests fled the country. In 2007, Interpol Fujimori was arrested and extradited to his homeland, where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Presidency to death
Some of the heads of States in their reset dates and the rewriting of the Constitution was stopped only by death. For example, in Venezuela Hugo Chavez started to change the Constitution shortly after coming to power in 1999. In the end, the country held new presidential elections, and in 2001 Chavez has entered a new term, the first two years were not counted. In 2009, he in the spirit Lukashenko held the abolition of restrictions on presidential terms, but won the election in 2012, and not entered into their powers for health reasons. Hugo Chavez died in March 2013.
The former President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov to 2007 he was head of state for 16 years. Thanks to the 1995 referendum on extension of powers instead of the election formally, it was only two presidential terms. On the third according to the Constitution he could not go, but went. The fact that in 2002, the constitutional referendum was the increased duration of the presidential term. And under the amended Constitution, the elections of 2007 were for Karimov again “first.” There was another victory in the “second” in 2015 — and death in 2016.
When the President is forced to flee the country
The first President of independent Kyrgyzstan Askar Akayev ruled the country since 1991. In 1998, he came to the end of his second term in office, the country’s constitutional court said in response to the request group of deputies that Akayev could run for President again. The reason — the Constitution of independent Kyrgyzstan was adopted in 1993, already after the first election of Askar Akayev, so his first term was “zero”. Interestingly, in a similar situation, the Russian constitutional court ruled that Yeltsin cannot run for a third term and to participate in the 2000 presidential election.
As for Akayev, he remained in power until 2005, when Kyrgyzstan broke out, the “Tulip revolution”, demanding his resignation. Eventually the President fled to Russia, which refused to extradite him despite the demands of the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General’s office.
Blaise compaoré came to power in Burkina Faso in 1987 in a military coup. Subsequently, he twice won the presidential election. In 2000 the Burkina Faso Constitution has been changed — now the head of state can hold office for two terms are not for 7 and 5 years each. Before the next elections the constitutional Council indicated that the previous presidential terms compaoré thus was set to zero. So he could be elected another two terms, and when their outcome, in 2014, wanted to re-rewrite the basic law, people from Burkina Faso rebelled. As a result, the Blaise compaoré resigned and fled the country.
From reset the time before the lifting of restrictions
The first term of the current President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon was in 1994, and another “first” — in 2006. Among them was the constitutional referendum of 2003, “abolisi” his previous reign. In 2016 personally for Rahmon in the basic law has prescribed a particular position, allowing him to run an unlimited number of times.
The President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has won his first presidential elections in 1991, being the only candidate on the ballot. Four years later, his presidential term was extended by referendum to the year 2000. But in 2000 came again the “first” time Nazarbayev on the new Kazakhstan Constitution of 1995, as explained by the constitutional Council of the country.
In 2007 in Kazakhstan the basic law have added an exception only for Nursultan Nazarbayev as the first President he can run for an unlimited number of times. What to do until he resigned in March 2019 at the age of 79 years. However, he retained the position of head of the country’s security Council and President of the ruling party, and his daughter became the speaker of the Parliament of Kazakhstan.
In 2010, the years would be reset presidents in Africa
In 2010-ies of the leaders in the nullification of presidential terms was Africa. In addition to Egypt, this happened in Senegal and Burundi. Senegalese ex-President Abdoulaye Wade came to power in 2000, in 2001 reformed the Constitution, limiting the number of allowable presidential terms to two (before the limit was not). And pereizbranie for a second term, he insisted that to violate these rules will not. But when his second term in 2012 came to an end, 85-year-old Wade said he intends to run again. The constitutional court of Senegal rejected the complaint of the opposition, saying that legally, the President is only the second time after updating the Constitution, not the third. However, this election Abdoulaye Wade lost.
In Burundi, the President zeroed out twice. In 2005, President Pierre Nkurunziza was elected by Parliament. Then the procedure was changed, and in 2010 he became the first President of Burundi, selected by popular vote. Five years later, he wanted to run again, and the country’s constitutional court allowed him this, de facto zeroing his first term. Part of the Burundian military rebelled and staged a coup attempt, but in the end the generals of the rebels arrested, and Nkurunziza won elections. In 2018 in Burundi adopted a new Constitution, allowing all previous presidential terms of Pierre Nkurunziza was re-zeroed before the election of head of state, which was scheduled for August 2020. However, on 8 June, Nkurunziza has died, according to the official version — a heart attack, although some media reported that the reason was a new coronavirus.
African leaders joined former President of Bolivia, Evo Morales. After coming to power in 2005, four years later, he reformed the Constitution. When behind Morales had two presidential terms, the country’s constitutional court nullified his first period of rule, because he was prior to the changes of the basic law of Bolivia. During the de facto third term for Morales tried to abolish restrictions on the number of presidential terms, but Bolivians voted against it. Then in the case entered the Supreme court and nevertheless removed this restriction. In the end, Evo Morales announced his victory in the elections of 2019, but after protests fled the country. At home he accused of criminal offences.
Finally, perhaps the most unusual zeroing occurred in Ukraine at the beginning of the 21st century. As in Kyrgyzstan, the Ukrainian constitutional court found that the first term of Leonid Kuchma can be reset to zero, as started before the adoption of the new Constitution. But Kuchma himself did not run for President in 2004, so the potential reset is not actually implemented.