In Rwanda, Paul Kagame candidate for a fourth term in 2024

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has announced that he will run for a fourth term in the presidential election scheduled for 2024 in this country in the Great Lakes region

In Rwanda, Paul Kagame candidate for a fourth term in 2024

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has announced that he will run for a fourth term in the presidential election scheduled for 2024 in this country in the Great Lakes region. “I am happy with the confidence that Rwandans have shown in me. I will always serve them, as much when I can. Yes, I am indeed a candidate,” Mr. Kagame, 65, told the French-speaking magazine Jeune Afrique published on September 19. The Rwandan government announced in March that it would synchronize the dates of the presidential and legislative elections, which are due to take place in August 2024.

Kagame has until now not openly expressed his intentions, but he made controversial constitutional amendments that won him a third term and could allow him to rule until 2034. Former rebel leader Paul Kagame has been the country's de facto leader since the end of the 1994 genocide. He was returned to power, with more than 90% of the vote, in elections in 2003, 2010 and 2017. So far, only the leader of the Party opposition green, Frank Habineza, announced his candidacy for 2024.

The outgoing president’s announcement to run again “is not a surprise,” he told AFP. “We are not afraid of him, we are improving our organization as a political party to run a better campaign than in 2017. We are confident,” he added: “Democracy is a fight, it This is why we will continue to fight democratically for political space and democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Rwanda. »

“Prisoners in their own country”

Rwanda presents itself as one of the most stable countries on the African continent, but several human rights groups accuse Paul Kagame of governing in a climate of fear, stifling dissent and freedom of expression.

In 2021, Paul Rusesabagina, hero of the film Hotel Rwanda and virulent critic of Kagame, was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for “terrorism”, after his arrest the previous year in murky circumstances.

Mr. Rusesabagina, who had lived in exile in the United States and Belgium since 1996, was arrested in Kigali, when he got off a plane that he thought was bound for Burundi. His family described this operation as a kidnapping. The Rwandan government had claimed that the arrest was "legal", admitting to having "facilitated" the transport of Mr. Rusesabagina by financing this operation. Released from prison in March 2023 and returned to the United States after a presidential pardon, Paul Rusesabagina released a video message in July, saying that Rwandans were “prisoners in their own country.”

Rwanda is ranked 131st (out of 180 countries) in the 2023 world press freedom rankings established by Reporters Without Borders.

Asked in July 2022 on France 24 about his candidacy for a new mandate, Paul Kagame replied: “I am considering running for twenty more years, I have no problem with that. Elections are an opportunity for people to choose. »

Kagame was just 36 when his party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, ousted Hutu extremists from power, accused of being responsible for the genocide in which some 800,000 people, mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutu, were murdered between April and July 1994.