Rwandan parliament has backed a petition calling for a referendum in which voters will be asked if the constitution should be amended to alow President Paul Kagame to extend his 15 years in rule of Rwanda. Twenty-three out of 24 senators supported a petition signed by 3.7 million Rwandans, Senate President Bernard Makuza said in the capital, Kigali. The petition was also approved by 79 of 80 members of parliament present, the Speaker of Parliament Donatille Mukabalisa said.
It has become obvious that majority of Rwandans are in support of the referendum as many have spoken up likening President Kagame to Lee Kuan Yew the legendary leader. Others have insisted that he is the most effective leader in the world and would want him to continue. However the news has been received with mixed feelings by other Africans with many wondering why many African leaders adopt a sit tight attitude rather than relinquish power at the end of their constitutional terms. It will be remembered that President Paul Biya of Cameroun and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria have both made same attempt with differing results.
Analysts are already concerned about the effect of this decision on neighboring Burundi, where the ruling party’s April nomination of President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term sparked violent protests that have left at least 77 people dead. The crises is still been managed by the African leaders with a team of mediators led by the Ugandan President currently in the country.
Kagame has been in power since 2000 after he led a rebel army that ended the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which about 800,000 people were killed. If the term elongation is adopted at the referendum, he would be eligible to contest aain in 2017.