Kagame’s third term bid irks US

President Paul Kagame.

President Paul Kagame

The United States has expressed deep disappointment the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame has announced his third term bid ending months of  speculation.

“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.

The US response follow’s Kagame’s announcement on New Year’s Eve that he intends to run for office in 2017 when his second constitutional term ends.

“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 adding “But I don’t think that what we need is an eternal leader.”

Kagame’s decision came following last month’s referendum to amend the constitution and allow Kagame a third term. Over 98% of voters voted “Yes” the president and his supporters say his decision to run was mainly based on what Rwandans want.

The United States and critics however, argue the legal processes in Rwanda have been manipulated to prop up the 58 year-old head of state.

“We are particularly concerned by changes that favor one individual over the principle of democratic transitions,” the state department statement added.

It is unclear how Kagame’s third term bid will affect relations between Kigali and Washington. Earlier this year, the United States, one of Rwanda’s major development partners had indicated the president’s third term pursuit would “no doubt” impact the bilateral ties between the two nations.

President Paul Kagame was first elected in 2003 after serving as interim president for 2 years. The Rwandan leader like his regional counterparts has drawn criticism from the West for their unwillingness to relinquish power.

The conflict in neighbouring Burundi was triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for the third term, and Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo hasn’t ruled out pursuing the third term. Also in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni is contesting for his fifth term in office as Ugandans gear up for next month’s presidential election.