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The East African : Dec 12th 2015
The EastAfrican NEWS DECEMBER 12-18,2015 CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE Rwanda decides in long-awaited referendum It’s all systems go as Kagame suppo≥te≥s plan to hand him thi≥d te≥m in o∞ce By MOSES K GAHIGI Special Correspondent I t all began with isolated calls for Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame to seek a third term in office when his constitutional tenure ends in 2017. But today, thanks to changes in the Constitution, which will be subjected to a referendum on December 18, the president’s third term seems to have edged close to reality. But he is yet to confirm that he will run for a third term, even if the vote is in the affirmative. The change of Article 101, which limited presidential terms to two seven-year stints, would allow Mr Kagame to potentially remain in power until 2034. A week ago, while addressing the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party members, the president said he will only make his decision after the referendum. He signed the amended Con- stitution, which was presented to him by Cabinet last month — the second last step in the quest for him to legally stay on — paving the way for the vote. Rwandans in the diaspora will vote on December 17 while those at home will vote the following day. The Senate approved the draft President Paul Kagame greets his followers. Rwandans are preparing to vote on December 18 to allow the president a third term in office. Picture: File We will see if they have all the requirements to hold a demonstration.” Stephen Rwamulangwa constitutional amendments last month following pressure by the president’s supporters. The legislators therefore approved a standalone Article 167 in the draft Constitution, which states that, “the president in office at the time of commencement of this revised Constitution – that is President Paul Kagame in this case — shall continue to serve the term for which he was elected, and the provisions of Article 101 of this revised Constitution shall be applicable after the expiry of a seven-year term.” Article 101 cuts the presiden- tial terms from seven years to five. Article 167 was crafted to re- spond to demands by the public, who petitioned parliament early this year, calling for the removal of the presidential term limits. This was the culmination of a nationwide consultation process on the matter, with the majority of the people insisting on constitutional reforms. More than two-fifths of Rwanda’s voters — 2.5 million — signed the petition. And now, with Rwandans’ date with destiny known, opposition parties say they will hold peaceful demonstrations against the referendum. In a letter dated December 10 seen by The EastAfrican, the coalition of opposition parties wrote to Gasabo District in Ki- THE CHANGES In total, 30 articles of the Constitution were changed in content, and 25 in phrasing. The other 122 remained intact. Among the 30 is Article 101, which cuts down presidential terms from seven years to five years. Article 167 introduces a transitional term of seven years, before Article 101 can be implemented alongside other modifications. gali City, requesting for permission to hold a peaceful demonstration on December 15. By the time of going to press, the parties, which are not officially registered to carry out political activities — FDU Inkingi, PDP Imanzi and PS Imberakuri’s faction headed by Bernard Ntaganda — were yet to get the green light for the demonstra- tion. Speaking on KFM on Fri- day, the district mayor Stephen Rwamulangwa acknowledged receiving the letter but said he was studying before making a decision. “We will see if they have all the requirements that warrant permission to hold a demonstration,” said Mr Rwamulangwa. The letter says that the dem- onstration will go a long way to “demystify the propagandist narrative that almost everyone is behind the constitutional amendments.” PS-Imberakuri, the wing headed by Christine Mukantabana, has questioned the haste with which the referendum has been organised, noting that it needed more time for the populace to be sensitised about it. The Green Party, the official opposition, expressed the same concerns and suspended its No Change campaign, saying there was no sufficient time for it. The United States and the European Union have come out against the move to amend the country’s Constitution, which they say is intended to secure the incumbent’s longevity in power. They said it undermines democratic principles. Other changes in the draft include a new term of service for senators, from an eight-year non-renewable term to a fiveyear term renewable once. The senators in office at the time of commencement of the revised Constitution will continue to serve till the end of their term. 3 Flightline Training Services Nairobi is currently seeking candidates interested in Technical Instructor positions, based in Nairobi, Kenya with possible travel to various customer locations. The Technical Instructor will provide classroom and hands-on instruction on various aspects of all or any of these aircraft or engines: • C208 Cessna Caravan, • De Havilland DHC-8 Series, • Beechcraft B1900 (C/D) and King Air (200/350), • P&W/ PT6A Series Engines. Instruction to include aircraft and engine familiarization and line maintenance functions. 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