Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has confirmed that he’ll run for a fourth time period subsequent 12 months, which may prolong his presidency to just about three many years.
“I’m proud of the arrogance that Rwandans have in me,” President Kagame told French-language magazine Jeune Afrique on Tuesday.
He has confronted criticism from rights teams, which have accused him of cracking down on the opposition.
However the president mentioned he was not bothered by the opinion of outsiders.
Mr Kagame won the last presidential election in 2017 with practically 99% of the vote. Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) mentioned the vote happened in a context the place free speech was very restricted.
Within the journal interview, the president mentioned that he was completely happy to hold on so long as Rwandans needed him to remain and serve them.
He had beforehand hinted that he may run for re-election, however that is the primary time that he has categorically acknowledged he might be a candidate in subsequent 12 months’s ballot scheduled for August.
The 65-year outdated has been the dominant drive in Rwanda since his then-rebel group, the Rwanda Patriotic Entrance (RPF), got here to energy on the finish of the genocide.
However he solely grew to become president in 2000 following the resignation of Pasteur Bizimungu.
In 2003, Rwanda adopted a brand new structure giving the president a seven-year tenure renewable as soon as.
However this was amended in a controversial referendum in 2015.
The modifications, which have been authorised with 98% of the vote, allowed the president to run for a 3rd seven-year time period after which serve two additional five-year phrases beginning in 2024.
Requested about what the West would take into consideration his choice to run once more, Mr Kagame advised Jeune Afrique that “what these international locations assume just isn’t our downside”.
“Personally, I now not know what corresponds to Western values. What’s democracy? The West dictating to others what they need to do? But when they violate their very own rules, how can we hearken to them?” President Kagame mentioned.
“In search of to transplant democracy to another person is already a violation of democracy in itself. Individuals are speculated to be unbiased and must be allowed to organise themselves as they want,” he added.
Final 12 months, HRW’s Central Africa director, Lewis Mudge, told the BBC that “Rwanda is a country where it’s very dangerous to oppose the government, let alone to be a political opponent”.
A number of distinguished opposition figures have been attacked, and a few killed, whereas in exile.
President Kagame has prior to now fiercely defended Rwanda’s report on human rights, saying his nation respects political freedoms.