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Kagame set to accept tenure extension offer




• President to remain in office till 2034
• Burundi rejects AU’s peacekeeping force

BUOYED up by the “ wishes” of his people, Rwandan President Paul Kagame will formally declare interest to stay in power for as long as 2034.

The 58-year-old Kagame swept the polls in a referendum aimed at amending the constitution to enable him to stay in power up to 2034 .

Meanwhile, the government in neighbouring Burundi , at the weekend, rejected the African Union (AU)’s plan to deploy a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force to stop escalating violence triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s extended tenure in office, a government spokesman said.

Yesterday, the Minister in charge of Rwanda’s Cabinet Affairs, Mrs. Stella Ford Mugabo dropped the hint that Kagame would surely accede to the demands of the Rwandan citizenry during the two days’ 13th National Dialogue Council meeting which commences today in Kigali.

She disclosed that top on the agenda during the national dialogue entitled “Rwandan choices as the foundation of development “ is the role of leadership in the choices that need to be made to ensure the socio-economic and political development of Rwanda in the years ahead.

According to her, the national dialogue is in tandem with the requirement of the Rwandan constitution, noting that the outcome of the referendum would afford Rwandans the opportunity to consolidate on the gains so far recorded since the devastating genocide of 1994 which set the country’s development backwards.

She said : “I am sure from where we are coming, this is one of the choices. We have to decide what role Rwandans have in determining their future. Rwandans have been dictated to for so many years until they decided in the last 21 years that enough is enough.

“I think we have to take our destiny into our hands and today what we came through on Friday is deciding to take our destiny in our hands as Rwandans and so the choices we are discussing is really taking us through the future.

“ So what is it that we want as Rwandans for the future and that is why we are also combining it with the strategic development goals (SDGs) so that we discus our development goals. We have finished the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) but are we where we would like to be? No!. We still have a long way to go. With that, we have got to also make choices on your leadership and also make choices for what you want for the future for us as Rwandans. “

On whether Kagame would accept the offer to stay on in power, she said: “I think what I know about my president is that he listens to the people. And I don’t think that the president would really want to disappoint his people.

“Agreed, he could stay in power till 2034. We know where we are coming from. Rwandans have been dictated to in the choice of their leadership and they know where it led them. Now, Rwandans have decided to take their destinies in their own hands . Rwandans are making the choice.”

Ruling out the possibility of Kagame ‘s tenure extension leading to a breakdown of law and order in Rwanda, she said: “I think there is a big difference between what is happening elsewhere and here. Elsewhere, they are on the streets against it, fighting and saying ‘no’ openly. But here in Rwanda, they were so eager to go to the polling station to say ‘yes’ in the referendum. It was joy all over .  As far as Rwandans are concerned, it is their will and they are doing it peacefully but on top of that with joy.”

On why the citizens in Rwanda want Kagame to stay on, she said: “The three things he has done are embedded in the choices we have talked about. First and foremost was uniting a society that was totally disentangled. Putting behind us the 1994 killings, he united the country and gave us a single national identity.There was no revenge, there is no Tutsi, no Hutus, we are Rwandans.

“Second, we identified our common enemy which was poverty and waiting for others to decide what was right for Rwandans.
Another thing is that he ensured whoever holds a leadership position is accountable to the people. If I am a leader, I am not going to do what I want but to be accountable to the people. He also taught us that Rwandans must have self-dignity. If we had to depend on others, we shall never move forward.

“Again, he said we have to move and develop our country ourselves and there is no easy way to that. He said we have got to work hard, pay a price and make sacrifice by sometimes saying no to someone who wants to give us resources that are tied to some conditions.”

Refusing the AU’s 5000-strong peacekeeping force, Burundi’s government spokesman, Philippe Nzobonariba, said: “If the African Union sends troops without Burundi’s consent it will be viewed as an attack. Burundi has enough forces to maintain peace,” he said.

Burundi has been in turmoil since April when Nkurunziza’s candidacy for a third term was announced. Violence escalated following Nkurunziza’s re-election in July.

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