Africa

Paul Kagame's third term: Rwanda referendum on 18 December

Paul Kagame Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Kagame said he will not decide whether to run for a third term until after the referendum on changing term limits

Rwandans will vote in a referendum next week on a constitutional amendment to allow President Paul Kagame to seek a third term in office, the government has announced.

The change would allow Mr Kagame to potentially remain in power until 2034.

The government said Rwandans overseas will vote on 17 December followed by those in the country on 18 December.

The US had called for Mr Kagame to set an example for the region by stepping down at the end of his term in 2017.

He has hit back at "other nations" for interfering in the East African nation's internal affairs.

Rwanda's Senate approved draft constitutional amendments last month allowing Mr Kagame to run in 2017 for another seven-year term.

While the amendments shorten the length of a term from seven to five years and maintain a two-term limit, the rules will not take effect until 2024.

Mr Kagame could then potentially run for another two five-year terms.

The amendment is expected to be easily approved in the referendum, the AFP news agency reports.

Mr Kagame's Rwanda Patriotic Front, an ethnic Tutsi rebel force, ended the 1994 genocide perpetrated by Hutu extremists.

Some 800,000 people - Tutsis and moderate Hutus - are estimated to have been killed.

Mr Kagame is yet to announce if he will run in 2017 if allowed and plans to make a decision after the referendum, pro-government newspaper the New Times has reported.

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