UN chief urges African leaders not cling to power


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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — The U.N. secretary-general Friday urged African leaders not to cling to power.

Ban Ki-moon said undemocratic constitutional changes and legal loopholes should never be used by leaders to stay in power.

Speaking at the summit of the 54-nation African Union, Ban urged African leaders to listen to their people saying that modern leaders cannot ignore the wishes of those they represent.

Some African leaders have been in power for decades after altering their countries' constitutions to extend their tenures in office. Recently Congo passed a law that requiring a national census before elections could be held. The law sparked off violent protests in which dozens were killed as critics accused President Joseph Kabila, who has been president since 2001, of attempting to prolong his stay in office.

Burkina Faso's president of 27 years, Blaise Compaore, stepped down in October amid mounting opposition to his bid to seek yet another term in office.

Other African countries where leaders are suspected to be planning changes to their constitutions to extend their times in power include Congo Brazzaville, Benin, Uganda and Rwanda.

The African Union's new chairman, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, 90, has been in power since 1980 and has altered the country's constitution and has been re-elected in polls widely criticized for rigging and violence.

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Elias Meseret

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