President Faustin-Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic declared on Tuesday that he would put the issue of changing the constitution to eliminate term limits to a vote in July.
The modification was offered by Touadera’s friends in May of last year, with the justification that several nearby nations lacked presidential term restrictions. In opposition to the change, which would have allowed Touadera to seek reelection for a third term in 2025, protests were conducted last year.
In September, the president appointed a commission to develop the suggested modifications. But the committee was declared unlawful and disbanded by the highest court in the nation.
Touadera announced that a referendum would be held on the new charter in a speech to the nation on Tuesday.
He stated that the decision to organise a referendum was reached after discussions with the National Assembly and Constitutional Court presidents.
“To those who many have reason to fear the advent of a new constitution, I would like to reassure them,” Touadera said, noting he was responding to public demands for change.
“Alternation will always be organised through free, democratic and transparent elections open to all citizens.”
The referendum would begin on July 15 and end on July 28, according to a presidential proclamation issued later on Tuesday.
The 66-year-old took office in 2016 after a civil war that had been sparked by the ouster of the previous president, Francois Bozize, three years earlier. In 2020, just as rebel forces, some of which supported Bozize, launched an offensive, briefly endangering the country’s capital Bangui, he was re-elected.
The suggested reform is reminiscent of constitutional and other legal amendments that have permitted presidents to continue in office in several other African nations, including Rwanda, Congo Republic, Ivory Coast, and Guinea.
Touadera had previously suggested changing the constitution to permit him and other legislators to continue serving in case elections are postponed.