World awaits Kagame’s decision as Rwandans vote to extend his rule

In Afrique

As Rwandans voted Friday in a referendum to change the Constitution, that will see the country do away with current presidential term restrictions, only one man stands between President Paul Kagame and a go at a third term — the president himself.

Throughout the Constitution review exercise, Kagame has remained non-committal on his stance, but promised his RPF party members that he will make his stand known after the referendum.

Provisional results from the referendum will be released Friday evening, while final results will be officially announced on Monday, according to the National Electoral Commission.

Over six million Rwandans are expected to vote, including 37,488 from the diaspora who were registered to vote on Thursday.

The referendum is a culmination of a nationwide consultation process, with the majority of the people insisting on constitutional reforms. More than two-fifths of Rwanda’s voters — 2.5 million — signed the petition

Under proposed constitutional changes approved by parliament and being put to public vote, Kagame would be allowed to run in 2017 for another seven-year term plus two more five-year terms after that, potentially allowing him to stay in power till 2034.

The United States and the European Union have come out against the move to amend the country’s Constitution, which they say is intended to secure the incumbent’s longevity in power. They said it undermines democratic principles.

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