The United States said it is concerned about the decision by Rwanda’s Parliament and President Paul Kagame to establish a Constitutional Reform Commission that may amend or remove executive term limits and permit President Kagame to seek a third term in 2017.
This week, a section of Rwandans in the diaspora protested against a move by Rwanda’s parliament to amend the constitution and lift term limits.
The group allied to exiled Rwandan general Kayumba Nyamwasa held a peaceful demonstration at the Rwandan High Commission in South Africa on Wednesday asking the African Union, East African Community and donor groups to rein in Kagame.
In a statement signed by Dr Etienne Mutabazi, the group said there is no single Rwandan who wilfully petitioned Kagame to remain in power.
“For those who are used to Kagame’s modus operandi, it is him who was pushing, through his intelligence apparatus and state machinery, for the population to anticipate his third term.”
It continued: “Manipulation, lies and deceit have always characterised Kagame and his inner circle’s way of doing business in Rwanda.”
In a press Statement issued yesterday by John Kirby, Department Spokesperson Washington, DC, Washington said while it respects the ability of any parliament to pass legislation that reflects the will of the people it is elected to represent; however, “we continue to firmly support the principle of democratic transition of power in all countries through free, fair, and credible elections, held in accordance with constitutions, including provisions regarding term limits”.
“We do not support those in positions of power changing constitutions solely for their political self-interest.”
As President Obama has stated, “When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife – as we’ve seen in Burundi. And this is often just a first step down a perilous path.”
President Kagame has repeatedly stated his commitment to respecting constitutional term limits and to mentoring a generation of leaders able to sustain Rwanda’s remarkable economic growth and stability.
“The United States underscores the importance of these commitments.”
Etienne Mutabazi, Frank Ntwali and Kennedy Gihana who led the Wednesday protest say Kagame is probably “the worst war criminal in office today”.
“Kagame has ordered and continues to order the killing and assassination of Rwandans inside and outside Rwanda. Far from being a people unifier, President Kagame is a predator, divider in spirit, actions and words.”
The alleged that Kagame “divides Rwandans among few privileged Tutsis and many marginalised Hutus and unwanted Tutsis. Rwandan economic development is rent-seeking”.
Rwanda’s ambassador to Uganda, Maj Gen Frank Mugambagye, said that is “a lone voice of dissidents” but Rwandans have spoken otherwise.
Rwandan lawmakers in August 2015, found “only 10 people” in nationwide consultations who opposed possible constitutional changes to allow strongman Paul Kagame a third term in power.