Rwandans will head to the ballot in a week’s time to vote on a referendum that will approve parliament’s constitutional amendment that will allow President Paul Kagame to seek a third term in office, the East African nation government has said.
The change will allow Kagame, who has ruled the country since his ethnic Tutsi rebel Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) army ended a 1994 genocide that killed over 800,000 people, to contest for another term at the end of his second term in 2017.
If he wins, he could remain in power until 2034, BBC reported.
Rwanda’s Senate approved draft constitutional amendments last month allowing Kagame to run in 2017 for another seven-year term.
While the amendments shorten the length of a term from seven to five years and maintain a two-term limit, the rules will not take effect until 2024. Kagame could then potentially run for another two five-year terms.
AFP reported that the referendum would easily approve the constitution change, paving way for Kagame who has not yet declared his interest to run for another term to do so.
Kagame’s bid for a third term is one among many in Africa and has elicited harsh reaction from western nation that largely fund the country’s annual budget.
The United States and European Union have warned that the move undermines democratic principles in the central African country, prompting Kagame to criticise “other nations” for interfering in his country’s internal affairs.
“They tell us we should have the right to make our own choices, but our choices then become defined as manoeuvring,” he said in quotes relayed by the ruling party’s Twitter account.
“Our actions do not correspond to the wishes of other nations,” he said.
In neighboring Burundi, there has been widespread violence and bloodletting after its leader bulldozed through a controversial third term.
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