Rwandan Senate approves constitution amendment, okays Kagame’s third term

Critics say President Paul Kagame is orchestrating constitutional change to facilitate his stay in power

Critics say President Paul Kagame is orchestrating constitutional change to facilitate his stay in power

The Rwanda senate Thursday unanimously voted for the amended constitution with all senators passing the constitution with less debate compared to the lower house of the Parliament last week.

The senators voted 24 votes out of 24 present and none of the votes was invalid or nullified, Honorable Bernard Makuza, the Senate president of the senate announced.

After the overwhelming voting process Hon. Makuza said that the discussions on the constitution are still open and the Senate is going to put up a special commission to conduct consultations from senators, and the general public.

Even with not much debate and cross examination of the document, Senator Charles Uyisenga questioned the duration of the constitution and if there won’t be any need to revisit it.

In response Hon. Abbas Mukama, who represented the Parliamentary Constitutional Review Committee said the constitution was amended as a result of citizens petitioning for change in the constitution, but this can be done at any time if Rwandans wished so.

The Rwanda parliament almost failed to vote for the new draft constitution as most members of parliament failed to understand why the review commission had removed the essence of God in the preamble.

After a long debate and defense from lawmakers on why God should be included, parliament voted and out of 75, only 48 voted for the new preamble- with these votes, the house failed to pass the constitution. The members asked for second round of voting but the measure still failed.

The National Assembly has already voted for the move to amend the constitution and allow the current leader Paul Kagame to run for the third term.

Meanwhile, Rwanda opposition Green Party chairman, Dr. Frank Habineza has said he will conduct mobilization and campaigns around the country to urge Rwandans to vote “NO” during the forthcoming referendum on the constitutional amendment.

The Green Party is the only opposition organization to speak out and file suit against the controversial constitutional amendment that is posed to give Kagame a green light to pursue the third seven-year term in office, but they have lost in the Supreme Court and are now appealing to Kagame himself to come to their rescue by reversing the government efforts that are now in overdrive.