The International media, Radio France International and Reuters have reported that final official results of
Rwanda’s referendum on constitutional change show an overwhelming majority in favour of allowing President Paul Kagame extra terms in office.
According to them, Kagame welcomed the result, which could allow him to run again.
Paul Kagame did not say whether he intended to run in the next election due to be held in 2017.
The media observed that Rwanda is not the only African
country where its leader has called for constitutional change in order to remain in power. Congo Brazzaville has recently amended its Constitution through a referendum paving way for incumbent leader Denis Sassu Nguesso to re-run for another term.
The amendments of Rwanda’s constitution will allow Kagame to run for an exceptional third seven-year term in 2017, at the end of which new rules will be in place and he will be eligible to run for a further two five-year terms, meaning that he could be in power until 2034.
This is not a contitutional “coup d’etat” as in other countries, such as Burundi. Kagame insisted the constitutional changes were put to a referendum following a petition supporting his plan received 4 million signatures.
Many leaders are now engaged in constitutional gymnastics to embrace a term limit while prolonging themselves in power.
In most cases they stay in office for decades and then propose constitutional reform to establish a term limit which does not have retroactive application. Hence, they do not count the years they had already served.
History teaches that the longer one stays in power the more difficult one finds it to maintain a legacy. KAGAME could make a difference by refusing to stand in the 2017 elections and prepare a level ground for multi party contest.
He would be honoured globally for having maintained peace and facilitated development in a war torn country that was set to be a failed state. Power is sweet but integrity is sweeter and more honourable.