There’s no one who stays in power forever, Kagame says



President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has reiterated that when the right time comes he will peacefully relinquish power.

The Rwandan leader, who is yet to make a decision on whether or not he intends to seek a third term was addressing over 100 Rwandan 1000 Rwandan leaders, members of the Rwandan diaspora at the opening of the 13th Edition of Annual National Dialogue council in Kigali, Monday.

Touching on the recent referendum in which over 98% of voters voted “Yes” to the draft constitution that allows the president to run for a third term, Kagame stressed citizens have the right to choose their own leaders and that the country has efficient institutions and processes which will enable peaceful transfer of power periodically in the future.

“It’s a privilege and a duty to serve the people of Rwanda. There is no time institution of leadership that we have built will betray the Rwandan people; there is no one who stays in power forever,” President Kagame said adding “when the time comes to pass on power, Rwandans will do it harmoniously and with integrity.”

Kagame has indicated his decision on the third term will mainly base on the outcomes of the just concluded referendum and the interests of Rwandans, and many expect the president to announce in the next few weeks if not days, that he is indeed running for the third term.

According to the draft constitution, Kagame, who has effectively been power since the end of the genocide, is eligible for one seven-year term, and two five-year terms. The 58 year-old could be in power until 2034.
In Monday’s speech, Kagame expressed his gratitude to Rwandans who voted for and against the new constitution in last week’s referendum.

He underscored that the outcome of the referendum was the real voice of the people of Rwanda and what Rwandans choose as the way of leadership should be respected by all, especially the critics of Rwanda’s leadership style.

Kagame, however, observed that what Rwandans have achieved is not yet good enough and that that is why they want to stay steadfast on their resolute development goals for the next vision 2050.

“This is not yet good enough. Where we wish to be, there is a lot to change and the future is good, and this is an opportunity that we shall not let go. Vision 2020 was for survival but vision 2050 is for us to choose the future we deserve and want,”  Kagame noted.

The president called on Rwandans to be fearless and to strive for the development of their country at any cost, without necessarily hurting other people as was the case when an extremist Hutu regime masterminded and supervised the 1994 genocide claiming over 800,000 Tutsis in just 100 days.

Kagame’s sharp remarks were also equally trained at the West, particularly the European Union and the US both of which have voiced opposition to the president’s possibility of running for the third term.
The duo has urged Kagame not to extend his stay in power beyond 2017 when his second term ends.

The US and EU have also stated the ongoing electoral and legislative processes in Rwanda are not democratic and that they are being orchestrated by the president and the ruling RPF to prop up the former.

“The adoption of provisions that can apply only to one individual weakens the credibility of the constitutional reform process, as it undermines the principle of democratic change of government,” Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said earlier this year.

The leadership dialogue in Kigali was organised under the theme: “Our choices of Rwandans are the foundation of development and dignity of Rwanda.”

The discussion sessions, Rwandans living and working overseas reaffirmed their commitment to propelling development in Rwanda through increased investment and selling their country’s image abroad.