Rwanda parliament debates constitutional changes for third Kagame term

2015-10-28 19:31
Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame

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Kigali - Revisions to Rwanda's constitution that would allow President Paul Kagame to seek a third seven-year term appeared on parliament's agenda on Wednesday, with the lower house of the Kagame-controlled body expected to vote later in the day.

In July, Rwanda's parliament backed a motion to let Kagame extend his mandate, and last month Rwanda's highest court ruled the constitution could be changed to extend the two-term limit.

The constitutional changes still face a popular referendum, although there is little chance they will fail. Kagame controls the Rwanda media, and he is personally popular as a nation-builder after Rwanda's 1994 genocidal conflict.

"All depends on the opinions of the people," the Supreme Court said in its October ruling.

Kagame has not said explicitly that he wants to run again but has made clear he is open to persuasion.

In neighbouring Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza sparked months of protests and a failed coup in April when he decided to run for a third term, after a controversial court ruling that the first of his two terms did not count because he was not directly elected.

Former rebel leader Kagame won international and domestic praise for rebuilding after the chaos of the 1990s. Around 800 000 people, most of them Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were massacred before rebel forces led by Kagame ended the genocide.

But international donors have criticised his suppression of dissent and any move to change the constitution. Washington said this month it "opposed those in positions of power changing constitutions solely for their political self-interest."

Read more on:    pierre nkurunziza  |  rwanda  |  east africa

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