Rwanda Says Yes to Paul Kagame Third Term

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Rwandans have voted by an overwhelming majority to give Paul Kagame the right to run for a third term as president.

Although the final results are yet to be confirmed, provisional findings show a total of 98.4 percent for the constitutional changes that could see Kagame in charge of Rwanda until 2034.

 

Popular support

Kagame is praised by many for steering Rwanda out of the horrors of the 1994 genocide and stabilising the country’s political and economic standing. During his two decades in power, the president has been widely seen as a national hero to the people of Rwanda and international leaders.

And the referendum vote could see the 58-year-old extend his stay in office for another 17 years. “What’s happening is the people’s choice,” the president told press after casting his own vote on Friday.

The vote has since been described as “the will of the people,” although opposition groups and numerous international bodies oppose the move.

 

Wide opposition

While the results would suggest there’s almost no opposition whatsoever to Kagame’s third term, opposition groups have claimed they were stopped from campaigning before the vote.

Overwhelming majority votes always raise questions and opposition groups in Rwanda insist the government makes expression against the state impossible. Moving overseas, two of the country’s biggest allies, Britain and the US – both of which have been major fund donors to Rwanda – have denounced the notion of a third term for Kagame.

The EU has also voiced its own concerns the Rwandan leader is on the verge of undermining democracy in the country. Eastern and central Africa is already suffering the ill effects of leaders extending their grip on power: Congo has seen violence escalate with Joseph Kabila moving to claim more time as president, while Burundi is in crisis following Pierre Nkurunziza’s successful third term bid.

 

Featured image:

Paul Kagame, 2009 World Economic Forum on Africa” by Copyright World Economic Forum www.weforum.org / Matthew Jordaan mattjordaanphoto@gmail.com – 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.