Only Rwandans Can Decide Their Destiny
Rwandans have the final verdict on who rules them and how they should be governed as enshrined in articles 1 and 2 of the countryâ€™s 2003 constitution, Rwandaâ€™s Finance Minister Claver Gatete said.
For the past month, more than four million Rwandans from all 30 districts of a country with 11 million-populations have submitted signed petitions to parliament demanding that a constitutional provision on presidential term limits be amended.
However, Rodney D. Ford, spokesman for the U.S. State Departmentâ€™s Bureau of African Affairs, said June 4 that in no uncertain terms, the U.S. , Rwandaâ€™s major ally wonâ€™t be supporting a third term for Kagame.
â€œThe people of Rwanda have a say in whoever has to be the leader and also what the constitution should look like,â€ Gatete said June 4, in an interview at the World Economic Forum on Africa in South Africa.
Article 101 of Rwandaâ€™s constitution says, â€œThe President is elected for a term of seven years renewable only once. Under no circumstances shall a person hold office of President of Republic for more than two terms.â€
President Paul Kagame will soon complete his two terms in office. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2017.
However, Kagame has on several occasions made it very clear that he will follow the law.
Most Rwandans have strongly expressed their desire to have Kagame extend his rule after 2017. Some have threatened to take their lives if he doesnâ€™t seek another term.
As momentum to amend the provision on term limits gains pace among Rwandans, several local and international critics are urging for respect of the constitution.
Â â€œThe U.S. supports the principle of democratic transition in countries in the region through free, fair, and credible elections, held in accordance with current constitutions, including provisions regarding term limits,â€ Rodney said.
â€œItâ€™s us who better know what is good for us. The World should leave Rwandans alone. We know very well the dark days we have gone through,â€ Maurice Mbarusha, a civil rights advocate told reporters.
In an interview with Jeune Afrique in March, Kagame said this was the right time for Rwandans to debate democratically, calmly and independently on the term limits issue.
â€œConclusions will be drawn by Rwandans and only them. We donâ€™t have the pretentiousness to tell France or the United States who should lead them; the same principle should be applied to us,â€ he said.