Rwandan Supreme Court agrees to hear case on allowing third presidential term

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Rwandan Supreme Court today agreed to hear a case opposing a constitutional amendment allowing President Paul Kagame to run for a third term.

President Kagame last year.
Image: Veni Markovski.

The government attorney had asked the court to throw the case, brought by the opposition Democratic Green Party, out. An eight-judge panel rejected that move. Kagame has grown popular at home and abroad following post-genocide reconstruction but the constitution does not allow a third term.

Parliament voted to lift a limit of two seven-year terms after a petition for Kagame to stay garnered 3.8 million signatures. A referendum on constitutional change is required. Neighbouring Burundi saw widespread unrest and ongoing political turmoil after a disputed election saw President Pierre Nkurunziza gain a third term.

The move by the Rwandan Patriotic Front has cooled Kagame's support abroad. Allies including major donor the United States expressed reservations on a third term in Rwanda. Rwanda and Burundi are just two nations of several in the region grappling with constitutional change to increase presidential term limits.

Kagame is yet to publicly decide on running again but has confirmed he is open to the idea of the constitutional amendment. "There's international pressure for him not to do this" MP Julianna Kantengwa told Al-Jazeera. "Then there's pressure from Rwandans for him to run. Who should he listen to? I think the answer is obvious".

This story has updates
See Rwandan Senate approves constitutional change allowing third term for Kagame, November 17, 2015