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President Paul Kagame: I did not Ask for a Third Term, My People Forced Me

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has revealed how he did not seek to prolong his time in office, but decided to run for a third term because his people Rwandans forced him to do so.

Rwanda is now a better place under the struggle of President Paul Kagame. This has been since 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

Kagame, 58, was supposed to step down before the 2017 presidential election, but last December millions of Rwandans voted in favour of constitutional changes to allow the leader to extend his mandate.

The approved amendments have allowed him to run for a seven-year term in 2017 and two subsequent five-year terms in 2024 and 2029, potentially putting him in power until 2034.

"By the way, I didn’t ask for this thing," Kagame said at the World Economic Forum in Kigali. "I was actually trying to tell my people:

’You know what, there’s room. Can’t you find someone else? You need to take a risk and look for someone else. And they kept saying ’No.

We are not ready to take risks. We want you to stay.’ I said, ’But I’m having difficulties staying’."

President Paul Kagame, second from the left during the World Economic Forum in Kigali.

Kagame is seen by many as the man who stopped the 1994 genocide and a leader capable of bringing about social and economic progress in Rwanda.

In an exclusive interview we got from IBTimes UK, Jean-Paul Kimonyo, senior adviser to the president, said the progress Rwanda has made in the last 20 years is something that its inhabitants could only have dreamed about since 1994.

However, Kagame has also been accused of cracking down on political opponents and freedom of speech, implementing a climate of fear. The government denied the allegations.

Frank Habineza, leader of the country’s only opposition party the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda told reporters:

"Kagame has been the president officially since 2003, but basically, he has been in charge since 1994. We know it will be difficult to beat the president, but we are not losing hope and we will continue our work. Our party thinks it can contribute to build a democratic process in the nation.” He said.

"We know the country has achieved a lot economically, but we are calling for more democracy." he continued. "We believe people should be more involved in the political process, because sometimes they are not happy with the decisions made by the government.

"We also need to have more freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of association, because here many people fear to express themselves thinking that they might lose their jobs or go to prison."

President Paul Kagame’s political History.

Kagame became the leader of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) armed wing, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), as the country had descended into a civil war which then sparked the 1994 genocide in which at least 800,000 people mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in three months.

In the aftermath of the genocide, Kagame served as vice president and minister of defence until 2000, when he became president after being elected by government ministers and the national assembly.

The RPF became a political party while its armed wing was renamed the Rwandan Patriotic Army (now the Rwandan Defence Forces).

In 2003, Rwanda adopted a new constitution replacing a transitional one, and Kagame was re-elected as president. He won the election again in 2010.

By Robert Muriisa.

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