Rwanda President to Run for Third Term in 2017
Rwanda President Paul Kagame has confirmed he will run for a third term in power, following constitutional changes that could see the leader stay in office until 2034.
The president announced his intentions during a televised New Year message on Friday, claiming the will of his nation’s people leave him with no other choice but to run again.
The will of a nation
“You requested me to lead the country again after 2017,” Kagame said in his statement. “Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept.”
The announcement had been widely expected for quite some time, however the president waited to confirm his intentions until a national referendum confirmed public support for him to run again.
“You clearly expressed your choices for the future of our country. The process allowed us the time to make certain that the proposed changes had merit and wisdom,” the president said.
The referendum conducted last month saw 98 percent of participants vote in favour of constitutional changes that could see Kagame stay in power for another 18 years.
International bodies in Europe and the US have criticised the notion of Kagame extending his stay in power since the constitutional amendments were first suggested. The EU has since criticised the recent referendum, claiming it was a rushed process that left the general public no time to consider the arguments.
A growing trend of African leaders extending their time in office has become an international concern – most notably Burundi, which hinges on the verge of civil war. Kagame, on the other hand, is seen as the man who brought peace to Rwanda by ending the nation’s genocide in 1994. The president is widely praised for leading Rwanda out of crisis and bringing economic stability to the country.
Despite this, questions have been raised about Kagame’s control over the media and his government’s dealing with opposition voices. The country has been accused by some of creating a silent grip on power that that leaves people with no voice to express their true feelings.
“Paul Kagame, 2009 World Economic Forum on Africa” by Copyright World Economic Forum www.weforum.org / Matthew Jordaan firstname.lastname@example.org – Africa as the World’s potential Breadbasket – World Economic Forum on Africa 2009. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.