Rwanda Seeks Third Term for President Paul Kagame

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Rwanda has appointed a commission to review proposed changes to the constitution that would allow President Paul Kagame a third term in power.

Article 101 allows any given president to stay in power for a maximum of two seven-year terms, but calls for an amendment to make an exception “only for President Paul Kagame” have been made. A consultation was launched in July this year to gauge public opinion on the idea of a third term for Kagame and more than 60 percent (3.7 million) are reported to have signed a petition to make the necessary changes to the amendment.

Quiet opposition

It’s not clear how accurate this figure is or how much support a third term would have at a public level, but lawmakers have overwhelmingly voted in favour of the president extending his run of power and numerous opposition MPs have reportedly resigned, prompting claims that opposition is being forced out.

Meanwhile the Democratic Green Party (DGPR) has filed a lawsuit to the supreme court to counter calls for constitutional amendments. DPGR President Frank Habineza has warned of the dangers a third term could lead to:

“Changing the constitution will not only undermine the democratic process but also the peaceful transfer of power,” he told IBTimes UK. “We don’t support the change of the constitution, but we are not surprised because many people have been predicting this move.”

Kagame looking to prolong ‘legacy’

The US has warned Kagame against a third term as speculation grows that voters have been forced to sign in favour of the existing president and pressure placed on opposition. Meanwhile President Kagame himself has been answering public concerns on Twitter:

 

 

Kagame’s rise to power started in 1994 when his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels put an end to genocide under Hutu extremists. He was widely seen as the nation’s most powerful figure, even before he took presidency in 2003.

Third terms are a difficult subject in East Africa right now after the turmoil in Burundi, following President Nkurunziza’s own third term.

 

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.