Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, has warned the United States not to interfere in his country’s politics, amid a row over whether he should stay on in power.
On Tuesday, Reuters quoted U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers saying United States expects Rwandan President Paul Kagame to set an example for the region and step down at the end of his second term in office next year.
“President Kagame has an opportunity to set an example for a region in which leaders seem too tempted to view themselves as indispensable to their own countries’ trajectories,” Power told reporters.
“We really do expect President Kagame to follow through on the commitments that he has made many times in the past to allow the next generation of leaders to come forward,” she said.
“We expect President Kagame to step down at the end of his term in 2017.”
Last month the African nation’s Senate approved a draft constitution to allow President Kagame, in power since 2000, to seek a third term in office, clearing the path for a nationwide referendum that is not expected to face much opposition.
Power said the United States was aware of the “parliamentary maneuverings” but noted that Kagame himself has not said what his intentions were regarding a possible third term in office.
Kagame shoots back
In a message on his twitter feed, Mr Kagame said it was up to Rwandans to decide their political future.
“This adds to things that help reach a decision on resolving the complexity of the Rwanda politics by Rwandans!!!” Kagame tweeted to Powers quoting Reuters story.
“….forget about the ” parliamentary maneuverings” !!!” he added.
Kagame has won widespread praise for rebuilding the landlocked Central African country since a 1994 genocide killed about 800,000 people, most of them ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
While praising Rwanda’s economic and social development since then, rights groups have said the government severely restricts freedom of expression and does not tolerate dissent. The government has denied these charges.
Kagame, 58, is the latest long-serving ruler in Africa to attempt to extend his hold on power. Similar moves have sparked violence and instability in Burkina Faso and Congo Republic.