US Secretary of State John Kerry might have had Kagame in mind when he recently said, “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… it is just a first step down a perilous path.”
President Kagame has been in power since 2000. In 1994, he marched into Kigali with his Tutsi rebels to end the genocide that had cost the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandans.
In 2003 and 2010, he was elected for full terms. Under the existing constitution, after two periods of seven years in office, he would not be eligible to run again in the next elections in 2017.
But now, following a Supreme Court ruling, the way is open for him. First, Rwandans will vote on the planned change to the constitution.
Thanks to a well-organized security apparatus, it can be expected that few Rwandans will dare not to vote in favor. It seems the risk of being stigmatized or isolated is too high. Kagame is taking care that the constitutional amendment should look as if it has the full backing of the population.
Kagame is known to rule with an iron hand, yet he is popular with many Rwandans and with international donors. They see him as a guarantor for peace and stability in the region, as he brought peace after the genocide and revived the economy. But is the price too high? The show will update viewers on events in Rwanda where many have gone into exile with tales of a repressive regime that jails any opposition voice. What are the key issues as Rwandans consider how to use their vote. Do they have any choice other than Kagame?