President Paul Kagame Announces Bid for Fourth Term in Office

Rwanda President Paul Kagame

In an interview with French-language magazine Jeune Afrique, Rwandan President Paul Kagame confirmed his intention to run for a fourth term in the upcoming election next year. This move could potentially extend his presidency to nearly three decades in total.

President Kagame expressed satisfaction with the confidence Rwandans have in him, despite facing criticism from rights groups over alleged crackdowns on the opposition. He noted that he was not concerned about the opinions of outsiders.

In the last presidential election in 2017, Kagame secured nearly 99% of the vote, a result questioned by rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW), citing limited free speech during the electoral process.

During the interview, President Kagame stated that he would continue serving as long as Rwandans wanted him to lead the country. This marks the first time he has unequivocally declared his candidacy for the upcoming poll, scheduled for August.

Paul Kagame, who is 65 years old, has been a dominant figure in Rwandan politics since his rebel group, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), took power following the genocide. He assumed the presidency in 2000 after the resignation of Pasteur Bizimungu.

Rwanda’s constitution was amended in a controversial referendum in 2015, allowing the president to run for a third seven-year term and subsequently serve two additional five-year terms beginning in 2024.

In response to questions about Western perceptions of his candidacy, Kagame stated that he was not concerned with what Western countries thought and questioned their adherence to democratic values. He argued that attempting to impose democracy on others could be seen as a violation of democratic principles.

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Human Rights Watch has previously raised concerns about political opposition and dissent in Rwanda, describing it as a perilous endeavor. Prominent opposition figures have faced attacks, and some have been killed while in exile. The Rwandan government has consistently denied any involvement in these incidents.

President Kagame has defended Rwanda’s human rights record, asserting that the country upholds political freedoms and respects its citizens’ rights.

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