RWANDA: Parliament Vote to Extend President Kagame’s Rule

KIGALI OCTOBER 30 2015 (CISA) – Rwanda’s lower house of parliament on October 29 passed a constitutional amendment allowing President Paul Kagame to run for a third consecutive term.

Constitutional changes still have to be approved by the upper house, before being put to a national referendum but if approved, it could see President Kagame potentially rule until 2034, four decades since he effectively took power.

According to Donatille Mukabalisa speaker of the lower house, Article 172 of the amended constitution was supported by all 75 lawmakers present and meant Kagame could stay on until 2034. “No law stops him,” she said in a news conference, Reuters reported.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in this process, we have finished our work… we took into account the wishes of the people,” said Mukabalisa.

After two days of debate, lawmakers agreed to reduce presidential terms to five years from seven, with a limit of two terms, but to make an exception for President Kagame.

The Democratic Green Party, Rwanda’s main opposition, tried to block the amendment to extend Kagame’s term, but their bid was rejected by a court.

Parliament debated the issue after a petition calling for changes was signed by 3.7 million supporters of the president who is credited with rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 genocide.