Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has confirmed that he will seek a fourth term in office next year, following his recent re-election as the chairman of the country’s dominant ruling party, Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).
“I am happy with the confidence that the Rwandans have shown in me. I will always serve them, as much when I can. Yes, I am indeed a candidate,” Kagame told Jeune Afrique magazine in an interview published on Tuesday.
Mr Kagame, 65, has been President since 2000. In 2003, the Rwandan constitution was changed, giving the president a seven-year tenure renewable once.
But another change in 2015 removed the seven-year term and allowed a president to serve two five-year terms, starting in 2017 — which allowed Kagame to run for his third term.
The referendum to change the constitution in 2015 garnered more than 90 percent supporters.
Rwandan lawmakers removed term limits for Kagame, allowing him to rule the country for the next 19 years ending in 2034, if he decides to contest.
Specifically, Rwandan legislators approved a standalone Article 172 in the draft constitution which will allow Kagame to rule the country as long as he wishes.
The article stipulates that “the President of the Republic in office at the time of commencement of this revised Constitution – that is President Paul Kagame in this case — shall continue to serve the term for which he was elected, and the provisions of Article 101 of this revised Constitution shall be applicable after the expiry of a seven-year term.”
While the National Electoral Commission is yet to release the official calendar, Parliament recently approved the merger of the parliamentary election originally scheduled for September this year with presidential election happening next year.