Rwandan President Paul Kagame has announced he will run for a third term in 2017, following the approval of constitutional changes to allow him to run.
“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 end of year message broadcast on national television.
In a referendum last month, 98.3 percent of Rwandans voted for the amendment of the constitution, according to the National Electoral Commission.
Kagame, 58, said the conditions for maintaining political stability were “actually the same as those needed to build the prosperity that we can already see on the horizon.”
He however ruled out being president for life. “But I do not think our aim is to have a president for life, nor is it what I would want.”
The U.S. and European Union have criticized the constitutional changes, urging Kagame to respect the presidential term limits.
But Kagame said Rwandans had confidence in the direction chosen.
“Even misguided or deliberately harmful criticism can be the start of a conversation that leads to greater understanding on all sides,” he said.
Neighbouring Burundi was plunged into chaos in April last year after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term, which he later won. But the similar debate has not caused unrest in Rwanda.
Kagame has been president since 2000. He served as vice president after his rebel force marched into the capital Kigali to end the country’s genocide in 1994. Enditem