(Ecofin Agency) - His decision to seek another term doesn't come as a surprise. In 2022, he had made it clear that he would remain president for as long as the people supported him.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame (pictured) has announced his intention to run for a fourth term in 2024. "I am grateful for the confidence that Rwandans have shown in me. I will continue to serve them for as long as I am able," he stated during an interview with Jeune Afrique on September 19.
However, this announcement comes against a backdrop of political and sub-regional tensions. Kagame's regime has faced numerous controversies in Rwanda. Before his official election in 2003 with 95% of the vote, he served as interim president in 2000 following the resignation of former President Bizimungu. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2017 with more than 90% of the vote. President Kagame is often credited with leading Rwanda's recovery following the 1994 genocide. Nevertheless, in recent years, troubling reports have emerged about his leadership.
During his presidency, human rights organizations strongly criticized the unexplained disappearances of opposition figures and assassinations. President Kagame vehemently denied these allegations and rejected calls for independent investigations. At the sub-regional level, tensions with the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) escalated in June 2022, amid allegations that Rwanda was providing military support to rebel groups operating in eastern DRC. The Congolese president openly accused Rwanda of "aggression, acting under the cover of the M23 terrorist movement." The UN classified this militia as a terrorist organization and had also criticized Kagame's involvement.
After amending the constitution in 2003, Kagame paved the way for a third presidential term in 2017, removing the previous two-term limit, despite opposition from several parties. This constitutional change allows him to remain eligible until 2034. In 2020, he expressed his willingness to stay in office for another 20 years.
As the August 2024 elections approach, coinciding with legislative elections, some observers express concerns about the political climate. During the presidential elections of 2003, 2010, and 2017, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch criticized the establishment of a repressive atmosphere characterized by intimidation and fear.