Rwandan President Kagame confirms third term run

Saturday January 02 2016

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has confirmed that he will seek a third term in 2017.

This followed the referendum that approved constitutional changes that give the president leeway to stay in power up to 2034.

"You requested me to lead the country again after 2017. Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept," Kagame said in his New Year's message to the nation, shortly before the stroke of midnight (2200 GMT) on Thursday.

In the run-up to the referendum, President Kagame had been non-committal on whether he would go for a third term, promising his supporters that he would make the decision after the plebiscite.

The December 18 poll saw 98 per cent of voters favour to amend Rwanda’s Constitution to allow the president to run in 2017 for another seven-year term, and two more five-year terms thereafter that could see him in power until 2034.

'President for life'


"You clearly expressed your choices for the future of our country. The process allowed us the time to make certain, that the proposed changes had merit and wisdom," Kagame told the nation.

He however said that he does not intend to be a "president for life" and reiterated that when the time comes, he expects a "purposeful" transfer of power.

"What remains is to follow the normal laws and procedures when the time comes. But I do not think our aim is to have a president for life, nor is it what I would want," he said.

The United States, UK and EU have strongly criticised the move to change the Constitution as an act that “damages Rwanda’s international reputation."

Kagame has however told off his critics, saying only Rwandans have the right to choose their leaders.