Rwanda set for referendum to extend presidential term limit

Paul Kagame, Rwandan President

Rwandan Government said it had fixed Dec.18 to vote in a referendum on whether to amend the country’s constitution to pave way for tenure elongation for President Paul Kagame.

Under the proposed amendment, Mr. Kagame, in power since 2000, would be able to run for office again after his second mandate ends in 2017.

If the amendment succeeds, the elongation would be first for a seven-year term and then, for two further stints of five years each, stretching to 2034.

Mr. Kagame, 58, is the latest veteran ruler in Africa to attempt to extend his hold on power. Similar moves had already sparked violence and instability in Burundi, Burkina Faso and Congo Republic.

His decision to seek re-election has so far not sparked political unrest in Rwanda.

In a statement, the government said, “President Paul Kagame has accepted that a referendum be made on the current constitution.”

The current Constitution limits any head of state to two terms.

Meanwhile, the U.S., in early December, urged Mr. Kagame to resist the lure of power and step down after his second term, to allow a new generation of leaders to come through.

It would be recalled that Kagame won widespread praise for rebuilding the landlocked Central African country after a1994 genocide killed no fewer than 800,000 people, most of them Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

(Reuters/NAN)

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