Thursday, July 18, 2024

Kagame seeks fourth term in office as Rwandans elect president, lawmakers Monday

“I would consider running for another 20 years,’’ Mr Kagame stated.

• July 11, 2024
Paul Kagame
Paul Kagame

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is seeking a fourth term in office, aiming to extend his presidency for another seven years as the country goes to the polls on July 15.

Over nine million registered voters will cast their ballots to elect the president and members of the 80-seat lower house of parliament in this election cycle.

Mr Kagame, 66, who has been president since 2000, faces two challengers in this election, Frank Habineza and Philippe Mpayimana. Six other candidates were disqualified by the Rwandan Electoral Commission.

The president is widely expected to defeat Messrs Habineza and Mpayimana, both of whom stood against him in the 2017 election, in which Mr Kagame secured nearly 99% of the vote.

In 2015, under Mr Kagame’s leadership, a constitutional amendment removing presidential term limits was passed, thereby facilitating his continued hold on power.

A victory for Mr Kagame on Monday would see him leas Rwanda for over three decades, joining the ranks of Africa’s sit-tight leaders, such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Paul Biya of Cameroon, and Ali Bongo of Gabon, the latter of whom was recently ousted by a military junta.

However, Mr Kagame has dismissed criticisms of his extended rule, suggesting that he could feasibly run for office for another 20 years.

“I would consider running for another 20 years. I have no problem with that. Elections are about people choosing,” Mr Kagame stated in 2022.

While Mr Kagame is lauded for spearheading Rwanda’s economic recovery and growth following the 1994 genocide, which claimed over 800,000 lives, he has faced criticism for his repression of political opposition and alleged human rights abuses.

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