Kagame hits back at US over third term criticism

KAGAME SHOULD STEP ASIDE: US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power


Two days after the US said it was “deeply disappointed” Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame had decided to run for the third term, Kagame has responded saying there’s a lot of disappointing things around the world that the United States should be concerned with rather than meddling in Rwanda’s local politics.

In a series of tweets, the Rwandan leader rebuked US attitude of getting in way the choices of Rwanda’s and Rwanda’s development agenda.

“There are quite many very disappointing things happening across the globe we hope to carry our own burden and not be others’ burden…!!!.” Kagame said via his Twitter handle Monday.

In another tweet, Kagame chided the United States for its stance on Africa’s and Rwanda’s issues.

“Africa’s problems; poverty, disease, governance, technology…etc. will not easily be solved by what is behind this ‘deep disappointing … attitude!!! ,” he stated adding “I promise we don’t intend to disappoint; especially ourselves!!!”

The Rwandan leader’s response comes hours after the United States reaction to Kagame’s announcement on New Year’s Eve that he was indeed running for the third term.

“The United States is deeply disappointed that President Paul Kagame has announced his intention to run for a third term in office.” John Kirby, State Department Spokesman said in a statement Saturday.

On Sunday, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power took to Twitter and said “Rwandan President Kagame’s decision to run for 3rd term represents the latest setback for democracy in Central Africa.”

Analysts say Kagame’s pursuit of third term is likely to affect the bilateral ties between Kigali and Washington and this latest feud is an indication of that. The United States supports Rwanda’s development agenda with about $100 million annually.

His announcement on December 31st 2015 ended years of speculation and controversy that the Rwandan popular leader planned to hold on to power beyond 2017 when his second constitutional term ends.

The United States, the European Union and other critics say, like other leaders in the region, Kagame and his ruling RPF have manipulated the system to their own benefit.

On the other hand, Kagame and his supporters argue, the presidents is serving the interests and choices of Rwandans, and that the choice (s) of Rwandans should be respected.

Last month, over 98% of voters endorsed the ongoing constitutional amendment that will allow Kagame and third term, and possibly make it possible for him to be president until 2034.

“You requested me to lead the country again after 2017. Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept,” Kagame told millions of Rwandans in his end of year address adding “But I don’t think that what we need is an eternal leader.”

Kagame is not the only leader in the region at the receiving end of US and EU criticism over the third term, President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, and Joseph Kabila of neighbouring DRC have been singled out for their third term pursuits.

Suffice to note that on his recent visit to the African Union in July, US President Barack Obama spoke out against life presidency in African politics and called upon the continental body to speak out when leaders change constitutions to extend their stay in power.