The United States has hit out at Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s decision to run for a third term, saying it was “deeply disappointed” and concerned by the move.
Washington and the European Union have consistently expressed strong opposition to Kagame, once a darling of the West, running again, and had called on him to step aside in 2017 to allow new faces to emerge and democracy to flourish.
“With this decision, President Kagame ignores a historic opportunity to reinforce and solidify the democratic institutions the Rwandan people have for more than 20 years laboured so hard to establish,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
With this decision, President Kagame ignores a historic opportunity to reinforce and solidify the democratic institutions the Rwandan people have for more than 20 years laboured so hard to establish
Kagame said Friday he would run again in line with a constitutional amendment that won overwhelming backing in a referendum.
The December 18 referendum saw voters massively approve constitutional amendments allowing Kagame, 58, to run for an exceptional third seven-year term in 2017.
Kagame was elected with some 90 percent of ballots cast both in 2003 and 2010 and he had said that the outcome of the referendum would determine whether he continued in office.
“You have asked me to lead the country after 2017. Given the importance you ascribe to this matter, I can only accept,” he said in a televised New Year address.
“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,” said Kagame, who described national unity as “unshakably strong.”
The referendum followed more than 60 percent of voters signing a petition calling for the drafting of constitutional changes that would allow Kagame to stand again.