UN chief tells African leaders not to 'cling to power'

Ban Ki-moon says African leaders should not use undemocratic constitutional changes and legal loopholes to cling to power (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)

Addis Ababa (AFP) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday told African leaders gathered for an annual summit to not cling to power and respect the wishes of their people.

"People around the world have expressed their concern about leaders who refuse to leave office when their terms end. I share those concerns. Undemocratic constitutional changes and legal loopholes should never be used to cling to power," he said in a speech at the start of an African Union summit.

"I urge all leaders, in Africa and around the world, to listen to your people. Modern leaders cannot afford to ignore the wishes and aspirations of those they represent."

In October, chaos in Burkina Faso erupted as lawmakers prepared to vote to allow 63-year-old Blaise Compaore -- who took power in a 1987 coup -- to contest elections in November 2015. He was forced out of power.

Earlier this month in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as many as 42 people were killed in protests that erupted agains a bill that was seen as an attempt to extend President Joseph Kabila's hold on power in the nation he has led for 14 years.

Countries including Benin, Burundi, and Congo-Brazzaville and Rwanda are all said to be considering change to allow their leaders a third term.

Other African nations where laws have been changed to the benefit of their sitting leaders include Algeria, Angola, Chad, Djibouti and Uganda.