Kagame Should Have Declined Third Term

Published on 28th December 2015

HE Paul Kagame
It is a historical fact that Rwanda had never experienced a smooth transfer of power since independence. Those who took the country from the Belgian colonists set a bad precedent that was followed by other Rwandan leaders till the days when genocide which came to be the shame of the 20th century erupted in 1994. Kagame and the RPF came as the “Messiah” to allegedly rescue the country from the culture of impunity and establish the rule of law.

In this analysis I will not engage myself into the theories and politics underlying the genocide and the aftermath of Rwandan life because those theories will not help us rescue of this tiny country into the East African region. I will focus on how the current Rwandan President H.E Paul Kagame rose into fame as the “Messiah.”

The 1994 Rwandan genocide was organised and carried out by Rwandans. Rwandans who took refuge outside Rwanda came to rescue their motherland from disappearing. They vowed to make a new Rwanda that would respect the rule of law and treat all Rwandans equally.

For years Kagame has vowed and promised to respect the constitution and the law of the country. Kagame confined himself to the two terms of leadership but on 18th December, 2015, the “people” of Rwanda allegedly decided that Kagame should extend his stay in power. Authorities in Rwanda say “the people” decided that the constitution be amended to allow the president in for the third term since he has done great things for the country. If that is the argument of the citizens of Rwanda, then the general conclusion is that Rwanda is synonymous to Kagame and there is no Rwanda without Kagame. Therefore, what will Rwanda be after Kagame?

A good leader should quit office when people still need him most. Once the leader wants people to get tired of him, his exit from the office will be shameful and painful to himself and the entire country. Those who hold power tend to mobilise their inner circle to manipulate change of constitution in their favour. Sometimes, this is done by special interest groups who are benefitting from the leader.The presence of the leader in power assures them safety of their interests.

Leaders who swore to protect the constitutions and the laws of their countries should not act contrary to the same laws. In Tanzania, when some people tried to push the idea in the parliament that the constitution be amended to give the then President Benjamin William Mkapa the third term, Mkapa opposed it. Mkapa ruled only for two terms and when his term was over, he left the office and Tanzania experiences the smooth transfer of power from one president to another.

I expected His Excellencey Paul Kagame to silence the bid to amend the Constitution in his favour. He had the best opportunity to lead his country by example and show the world that he came to make a new Rwanda. Amending the constitution is a common practice in the making of the laws of the country. However, those amendments should not be based on an individual.

By Stanislaus Kigosi

The Author is a Socio-political and international affairs commentator.
Contact: [email protected]

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