For Online E-newspaper
The East African : Jan 26th 2015
The EastAfrican NEWS JANUARY 24-30,2015 CALLS FOR A REFERENDUM GAIN MOMENTUM Officials hint at plan for Kagame third term The≥e is g≥owing public anxiety about the futu≥e of Rwanda if Paul Kagame ≥eti≥es A JOINT REPORT The EastAfrican allow President Paul Kagame a third term in office could be decided by a referendum, if emerging views on the matter from government officials are anything to go by. President Kagame is ineli- T gible to run in 2017 at the end of his second term in office. However, debate about plans to change the rules to allow him to stay in office continues, amid growing public anxiety about the future of the country if he retires, as well as concerns that his reputation if he joins the growing list of African leaders changing the rules to stay in office. President Kagame and sen- ior regime officials are reluctant to get drawn into the debate publicly, leaving the door open for lower-ranking officials to shape it and give a glimpse into the thinking within the government. The latest indication that the country could be headed for a referendum is an opinion piece published on January 19, 2015 in the pro-government daily newspaper, the New Times, by a local government official calling for a referendum to amend Article 101 of the Constitution that imposes a two-term limit on the presidency. “The positive impact cre- ated by President Kagame’s vision and leadership in Rwanda makes the majority of Rwandans uncertain about the future of Rwanda under another person’s command,” wrote Fred Mufulukye, the director-general in charge of territorial administration and good governance at the Ministry of Local Government. The official argued that term limits do not automatically translate into democracy, citing countries in the West including Britain, Denmark, Germany, Holland that do not have them. While Mr Mufulukye is not a top government or party official, the idea of a referendum to determine the matter is believed to enjoy support in the higher echelons of the state. The EastAfrican has also learnt that Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana, the Minister of Internal Security in the government and a member of the Idealist Democratic Party he debate over whether to amend the Constitution to THE LAW Article 193 gives the president power to initiate an amendment of the Constitution after a proposal by the Cabinet. Such a proposal would need to be backed by a resolution supported by two-thirds of each chamber of parliament. However, the amendment is required to garner support from 75 per cent of the members of each chamber. An amendment to change the term limits must go to a referendum. Left: President Paul Kagame votes during the parliamentary elections in September 2013. Pic: File (PDI), started calling for a constitutional amendment to remove term limits as early as October 2010, just a few weeks after President Kagame had been sworn in for his last seven-year term. In a letter dated October 9, 2010, a copy of which was received by the President of the Republic, Speakers of Senate and Lower Chamber of Deputies as well as the prime minister, and which this newspaper has seen, the official outlined plans by the PDI party to call for a referendum on amending the Constitution and reducing the term from seven to five years. The party, through its MPs, is planning to move a motion to call for a constitutional amendment to remove term limits in a referendum and to also allow President Kagame another term in office. In February 2013, the Rwanda Patriotic Front, which has been in power since 1994, convened a meeting of one of its top organs and picked a team including secretary general François Ngarambe, Senator Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, Senator Tito Rutaremara and the CEO of Rwanda Governance Board Prof Shyaka Anastase, to chart the roadmap to 2017. The transition committee APOLOGY The editorial cartoon published in last week’s issue of The EastAfrican depicted Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete in a bad light. It should not have been published except for a rare lapse in our otherwise rigorous gatekeeping process. We apologise to President Kikwete and regret any was charged with the task of finding a formula to manage the transition. Two years later, however, the team is yet to make public its recommendations. In an earlier interview with The EastAfrican Mr Rutaremara said that the work of the team was to find a formula to ensure “change, continuity and stability.” He noted that even if President Kagame was not interested in another term in office, “It is not for him to decide.” President Kagame has re- peatedly promised to respect the Constitution and its provisions on the term limits but has left the door open to the party and his supporters to decide. During a press conference on January 15, he said he was preoccupied with accelerating development and economic transformation, not what will happen in 2017. “At least that is not some- thing that gives me sleepless nights,” he said, in response to a question from a journalist. “I am sitting comfortably knowing that Rwandans will manage this with a lot of ease.” Calls are growing, both among President Kagame’s supporters and opponents, for a more open public debate on the succession question. “Kagame is not immortal,” said a senior RPF party official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The party must have a candid discussion about his possible succession and prepare the next generation to take over.” Frank Habineza, the head of the Democratic Green Par- ty of Rwanda, the country’s youngest opposition political party, said the debate should be opened up as time is running out. “We think it is time this is- sue is discussed by Rwandans since parties allied to RPF have made their demands public that President Kag- ame should continue and that the constitution should be changed,” he said. While no formal public de- bate is ongoing, there have been growing calls by President Kagame’s supporters for him to remain in office after 2017 during the president’s regular community outreach programmes. Opinion, however, remains divided on the street. ““Rwanda still needs him to consolidate peace and stability because his unique leadership skills have allowed the country to achieve so much in such a short time. Unless he publicly endorses someone to replace him that would give assurance to Rwandans that he is still in control,” said a middle-aged Rwandan, speaking on condition of anonymity. Others believe that a prop- erly managed transition is the best guarantee of long-term stability. “Power tends to corrupt those who have it, as we have seen in many countries,” said another who is opposed to the proposed amendments. “He should retire honourably.” 5 embarrassment the illustration may have caused the office and person of the president.
Jan 19th 2015
Feb 2nd 2015