The American Embassy in Rwanda says it is “disappointed” with President Paul Kagame’s decision to run for a third term.
In a statement issued by its Public Affairs Bureau, the Embassy said President Kagame’s decision “ignores an historic opportunity to reinforce and solidify the democratic institutions the Rwandan people have for more than 20 years laboured so hard to establish.”
The statement further said: “The United States believes constitutional transitions of power are essential for strong democracies and that efforts by incumbents to change rules to stay in power weaken democratic institutions. We are particularly concerned by changes that favour one individual over the principle of democratic transitions.
As Rwanda moves toward local elections this year, presidential elections next year, and parliamentary elections in 2018, we call upon the Government of Rwanda to ensure and respect the rights of its citizens to exercise their freedom of expression, conscience, and peaceful assembly – the hallmarks of true democracies.
The United States remains committed to supporting the free and full participation of the Rwandan people in the electoral processes ahead.”.
Kagame who has been president since 2000, is set to clinch a third term in office after Rwanda approved constitutional changes that would allow him to stay in power until 2034: a 7-year term from 2017 and two subsequent 5-year terms.
During a nationwide tour by lawmakers sometime in July 2015 to gather the opinions of citizens on the term limit for the president, only 10 people in the country of about 12 million were reported to have opposed the removal of the term limit.
By Emmanuel Odonkor