Rwandan President announces fourth term bid
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has announced for the first time that he plans to run for a fourth term in next year’s elections.
“I am happy with the confidence Rwandans have shown in me. I will always serve them as long as I can. Yes, I am indeed a candidate,” Kagame, 65, told the French-language magazine Jeune Afrique.
In March, the Rwandan government decided to synchronise the dates of its legislative and presidential elections, due to take place in August 2024.
Until then, Kagame had not openly expressed his intentions, but he has made controversial constitutional amendments that have enabled him to serve a third term and could allow him to govern until 2034.
A former rebel leader, Kagame has been considered the country’s de facto leader since the end of the 1994 genocide.
He was returned to power with over 90% of the vote in the 2003, 2010, and 2017 elections.
While Rwanda now claims to be one of the most stable countries on the African continent, Kagame faces mounting criticism.
Human rights groups accuse him of ruling in a climate of fear.
They say his government has targeted political opponents, including with extrajudicial killings, and muzzled the independent media.
The government has rejected these allegations.
Rwanda is ranked 131st out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index 2023.
The only other candidate so far in the presidential race is lawmaker Frank Habineza of the Green Democratic party.
He said he was not surprised by Kagame’s announcement and would continue to fight for democracy.