Africa-Press – Zimbabwe. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has confirmed that he will run for a fourth term in 2024.
The 65-year-old former rebel leader has been considered the country’s de facto leader since the end of the 1994 genocide.
Kagame was returned to power – with over 90% of the vote – in the 2003, 2010 and 2017 elections.
Speaking to the French-language magazine Jeune Afrique, Kagame said he was ready to serve Rwandans for as long as he can. He said:
I am happy with the confidence Rwandans have shown in me. I will always serve them as long as I can. Yes, I am indeed a candidate.
Human rights groups accuse Kagame of ruling in a climate of fear, stifling dissent and freedom of expression.
In 2022, HRW’s Central Africa director, Lewis Mudge, told the BBC that “Rwanda is a country where it’s very dangerous to oppose the government, let alone to be a political opponent”.
The Rwandan government has denied involvement in the killings of prominent opposition figures while in exile.
In 2014, Kagame warned that those who betray the country will face “consequences”.
Jeune Afrique asked Kagame what the West would think about his decision to run again and his response was:
Personally, I no longer know what corresponds to Western values. What is democracy? Is the West dictating to others what they should do? But if they violate their own principles, how do we listen to them?
Seeking to transplant democracy to someone else is already a violation of democracy in itself. People are supposed to be independent and should be allowed to organise themselves as they wish.
Despite leading his then-rebel group, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), which came to power in 1994, Kagame only became president in 2000 following the resignation of Pasteur Bizimungu.
In 2003, Rwanda adopted a new constitution giving the president a seven-year tenure renewable once.
But this was amended in a referendum in 2015 where 98% of the vote approved the changes.
The changes allowed the president to run for a third seven-year term and then serve two further five-year terms starting in 2024.