Rwanda President One Step Away From Third Term Bid


A draft constitution that will allow Rwanda President Paul Kagame to run for a third term in power has been passed by the country’s senate.A unanimous vote on Tuesday cleared the way for a referendum, which will give Kagame the official green light, if passed. However, no opposition is expected to counter the acting president’s bid at this late stage.


Depending on ‘his will’

Rwanda’s Senate head Bernard Makuza said he fully expected the constitutional changes to be approved in the forthcoming referendum, confirming that Kagame could serve another seven-year terms and two additional five-year terms, if voted to stay in power.

This would see the acting president maintain his place at the top of Rwandan politics until 2034. However, Makuza pointed out that “it all depends on his will” after the senate’s unanimous vote on Tuesday.

Paul Kagame himself is yet to confirm he will run for a third term, even if the changes come into effect. So far, the president has only expressed he is open to the idea, citing the wants and needs of the Rwandan people.


International concern

International concern has been quick to stem from news of a potential third term in power for Rwanda’s president. The US has been particularly vocal, urging Kagame not to join the list of African leaders maintaining their grip on power.

“We expect President Kagame to follow through on the commitments he has made previously to foster a new generation of leaders in Rwanda and to step down at the end of his current term in 2017,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

Opposition from within Rwanda has been almost non-existent, with the nation’s only real opposition party having seen their protest dismissed by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, critics accuse Kagame’s government of trampling on the media and political freedoms – something it firmly denies.

Kagame is widely considered the man who lifted Rwanda out of the 1994 genocide and into economic stability over the previous two decades. However, fear persists over civil unrest, after violence broke out in Burundi and Congo, following their retrospective presidents’ plans to run for a third term.


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.