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Rwanda: Kagame links power bid to the people's call

Rwanda: Kagame links power bid to the people's call

Politics

The long controversy has finally been settled. The president of Rwanda Paul Kagame will run for a third term in 2017 after modifying the constitution in December 2015.

The constitutional amendments gave room for an exceptional third term and reduced the term limits from seven to five years renewable once.

During the referendum, 98.4 percent of voters backed Kagame’s exceptional third term.

You requested me to lead the country after 2017. Given the importance and consideration you attach to this matter I can only accept.

President Kagame clearly mentioned that the revised constitution was requested by Rwandans.

The 58-year-old strongman thanked them in a televised 2016 new year message to the nation. “You requested me to lead the country after 2017. Given the importance and consideration you attach to this matter I can only accept.”

President Kagame, who is the sixth president of Rwanda, came to power in 2000 following the resignation of Pasteur Bizimugu.The current president was re-elected in 2003 and 2010.

Kagame’s critics decry the fact that the five year term reduction rule will only be implemented as from 2024.

In developments leading to Kagame’s open declaration of his intention, all moves by the opposition Green Party to stop the president’s bid failed but the party’s chairman Dr. Frank Habineza called for national dialogue.

The US and the EU have been advising Paul Kagame to hand over power to the younger generation.There are fears that donors could reduce aid to Rwanda if the incumbent finally stands as he has promised.

In his speech, Paul Kagame denied being linked to a power monger. “Sooner rather than later this office will be transferred from one person to another in a manner that will serve a purpose not merely set an example either for us or others. This is why we need to remain fully engaged on Rwanda’s journey of transformation,” he stressed.

Kagame wants his critics to look at his power bid from a positive angle. “Even misguided or deliberately harmful criticism can be the start of a conversation that leads to greater understanding on all sides.”

Critics of Kagame’s regime also accuse him of curtailing freedom of expression and interfering in the affairs of neighbouring nations but supporters hail him for ending the genocide and maintaining stability which has transformed the nation for the past 20 years.