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Mandela’s One-Term Presidency Bucked Decades-Old African Trend

When Nelson Mandela stepped down as South Africa’s president after serving a single term, he bucked a trend set by dozens of post-independence African leaders who clung to power.

Mandela, who died yesterday at the age of 95, was 75 by the time he took office after the nation’s first multiracial elections in 1994. He retired five years later, maintaining he was too old to govern. His decision to relinquish control, until then a rare occurrence in Africa, has since been followed by the leaders of Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Botswana and Sierra Leone, who accepted election losses or term limits.