Rwanda goes for referendum to decide Kagame’s third term

Rwanda President Paul Kagame says his supporters must convince him through referendum before he decides for third term in office

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Rwandan President Paul Kagame takes his place for a meeting

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame suggested that his country would possibly go for a referendum on a constitutional change this month to determine whether he can seek a third term in office.

President Kagame was first elected into office in 2003 and now seeking for a third term though, he said his supporters must convince him before he can decide to run again.

"I am still listening," he told senior officials in the Rwanda Patriotic Front on Sunday.

"Whatever you want from me will be based on the decision of the referendum and thus my answer will come after the referendum."

He did not fixed a specific date for the referendum during his comments in a state broadcaster.

Senator Tito Rutaremara, a member of the ruling party in Rwanda, told Reuters the cabinet was expected to release a time line this week.

 "We would wish it to take place on Dec. 18 but, you know, demanding is different from getting," he said.

According to the new proposed constitutional changes approved by Rwanda’s parliament and which was put to public vote, Kagame is allowed to contest for a third term in 2017 for another seven years in office and potentially can run for more five-year terms until 2034.

The opposition Democratic Green Party, attempted to block the amendment to extend Kagame's though a court rejected their plan.

United States, a main international donor to the country, has praised President Kagame for rebuilding the country’s economy after the 1994 genocide. However, the US now opposed his third term agenda and urged him to set an example to others by stepping down at end of his second term in 2017.

Debates about third term has flared across Africa with countries like Burundi in next door to Rwanda plunging into violence after President Pierre Nkurunziza extended term in office that faced opposition. 

TRTWorld and agencies