Kagame plotting third term in power
Rwandan President Paul Kagame could be set to join his Burundian counterpart Pierre Nkurunziza in seeking a controversial extended term in office.
This is after the country’s ruling party earlier this week backed calls to change the constitution that would allow strongman Kagame a third term in power.
Over 3.7 million people have signed a petition calling for a change of Article 101 of the constitution, which limits the president to two terms, the New Times newspaper reported.
Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), after a weekend meeting of some 600 top members, issued a statement calling for constitutional change.
“Considering the wishes of many Rwandans and those of members of the RPF, we support the proposed amendment of Article 101 of the constitution and any other provisions in the law that need modification,” the statement read, according to the New Times.
Kagame, 57, has been at the helm of Rwandan politics since 1994, when an offensive by his RPF ethnic Tutsi rebel force put an end to a genocide by Hutu extremists that left an estimated 800,000, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead.
The man himself has indicated he will support “the decision of the Rwandan people”.
“I have not asked anyone to change the constitution and I have not told anybody how or what to think about 2017,” Kagame said in April.
The move comes amid a wider controversy in East Africa over efforts by leaders to change constitutions in order to stay in office.
Neighbouring Burundi has been in turmoil since April when President Nkurunziza announced his bid to stand for a third term in polls next month, a move branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a 2006 peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also supported a move to remove term limits from the country’s constitution a decade ago, that has since allowed him an extended stay in power.