JOHANNESBURG – Burkina Faso's longtime leader, Blaise Compaore, was toppled from power last week by demonstrators angry that he was trying to change the country's constitution to allow him to extend his 27-year rule.
Many African countries established two-term limits in their constitutions, under pressure from Western donor nations and African citizens. But African leaders have persisted in finding ways around such restrictions, some have succeeded and at least 19 still are considering such a move.
Here is a look at some African countries where leaders have manipulated their constitutions to extend their time in power:
President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ruled since 1979 and ensured the issue of term limits never would bother him by having legislators approve a new constitution in 2010 under which the leader of the party that wins most parliament seats automatically becomes president.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, also in power since 1979, pushed through a referendum to change the constitution in 2011, so that he is able to run for re-election after age 75. The changes also allow Obiang to handpick his successor.
President Robert Mugabe, 90 and in power since 1980, last year organized constitutional changes limiting a president to two five-year terms — but it is not applied retroactively so that he can run for another term that will keep him in power until he is 97.
President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, was barred by a two-term limit from running again in 2011 but he got legislators to remove all term limits from the constitution in 2008 despite violent protests.
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who once declared that "no African head of a state should in power for more than 10 years," has governed since 1986. In 2005 he succeeded in getting the constitution changed to scrap all term limits.
President Idriss Deby, who has ruled since 1990, engineered a referendum to eliminate constitutional term limits in 2005.
President Joseph Kabila should step down ahead of 2016 elections but there's a campaign to change the constitution that limits presidents to two five-year terms.
President Isaias Afewerki has no concerns: Since he assumed office in 1991 in the newly created nation violently carved from Ethiopia he has scoffed at the need for any constitution.