Rwanda President Hits Back at US Criticism Over Third Term Bid


Rwanda President Paul Kagame has hit back at criticism from the US over his decision to run for a third term in power.

The US State Department said it was “deeply disappointed” by Kagame’s decision, accusing the president of ignoring a “historic opportunity” to strengthen democracy in Rwanda and set an example to its neighbouring countries.


A historic opportunity ignored

“With this decision, President Kagame ignores a historic opportunity to reinforce and solidify the democratic institutions the Rwandan people have for more than 20 years labored so hard to establish,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

However, Kagame was quick to respond to the Washington statement by taking to Twitter.

“Africa’s problems: poverty, disease, governance, technology . etc, etc will not easily be solved by what is behind this (deeply disappointed) attitude,” he said in one tweet.

“There are quite many very disappointing things happening across the globe we hope to carry our own burden and not be others’ burden,” he added. “I promise we don’t intend to disappoint … especially ourselves!!!”


International concern over third terms

International concern is growing over the increasing trend of African leaders extending their stay in power. Burundi descended into political crisis in April when President Nkurunziza said he would run for a third term.

Unlike Nkurunziza, however, Kagame has overwhelming support from the nation’s people  – at least according to a national referendum that saw 98 percent vote in favour of allowing Kagame to run again.

In fact, opposition to the prospect of Kagame running for a third term has been non-existent. But, while a repeat of Burundi’s descent into chaos is unlikely to happen in Rwanda, international criticism of Kagame’s government is growing. Critics argue his grip on the media and the dangers of speaking out against the government in Rwanda make it impossible for people to express their views, never mind oppose government action.


Featured image:

Paul Kagame, 2009 World Economic Forum on Africa” by Copyright World Economic Forum / Matthew Jordaan – Africa as the World’s potential Breadbasket – World Economic Forum on Africa 2009. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.