Rwandan Top Court Clears Way for Third Term for PresidentOctober 9, 2015 in Rwanda
On Thursday, Rwanda’s Supreme Court ruled that President Paul Kagame could run for a third seven-year term in office, effectively rejecting an attempt by the main opposition party to block changes to the country’s constitution.
In July, the Kagame-controlled parliament backed a motion to let him run again as the leader of the East African state. While the constitutional changes still must pass a referendum, there is little chance of them failing due to the president’s control over the media and many other aspects of public life. In response to Thursday’s ruling, the opposition Democratic Green Party, which brought the case before the Supreme Court, disclosed that it would continue to push for protection of existing constitutional term limits. Green party leader Frank Habineza stated “we are not happy but we’ve not given up. We are going to appeal to the president.” While the president has not explicitly stated that he wants to run again, he has made clear he is open to persuasion.
Thursday’s ruling is likely to attract attention in other African nations where term limits are under similar pressure. The Republic of Congo is holding a referendum later this month on constitutional changes that would allow 71-year-old President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his decades-long rule. Meanwhile in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, opposition parties have accused President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power for fourteen years, of attempting to extend his time in office via violence and manipulation of a packed electoral calendar. In Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office sparked months of protests and a failed coup in April.