Kagame accepts to run for third term
President says no term limit on values, progress
RWANDAN President Paul Kagame yesterday lived up to the ‘‘expectations’’ of his people by accepting the offer to stay on in power for a fresh seven-year third term till 2024.
In a state of the nation address while opening the 13th Umushyikirano National Dialogue Council meeting in Kigali, Kagame expressed gratitude to those that participated in the recently held referendum which okayed an amendment to the constitution that could pave the way for him to extend his tenure after 2017.
Amidst thunderous applause, he maintained that he was obliged to respect the decisions of the Rwandan people who had expressed their desire no matter whose ox was gored outside the country.
Kagame, who could remain in power till 2034 since he could still run for a further two five-year terms after the expiration of his third term tenure, however, assured that he would relinquish power when the future of Rwanda must have been guaranteed based on the Vision 2050.
According to him: “It is a privilege and a duty to serve Rwanda, not an entitlement. No individual is there forever, but there is no term limit on values, institutions, and progress. When the time comes to transfer responsibility from one public servant to another, Rwandans already have confidence that it will be done in the orderly and harmonious manner which we expect and indeed require.
“Finally, and most importantly, Rwandans are telling us that, as much as we have achieved, there is an even better Rwanda ahead, and the chance to definitively transform our country must not be squandered through inaction, indecisiveness, or mismanagement.
“Rwandans have therefore decided to establish a specific interval in which to fortify our gains, make them irreversible, and fully focus on the politics of prosperity. We are not afraid of the past. We are full of optimism for the future. Let us not miss our moment.”
In a veiled reference to western countries and donor agencies opposed to his tenure extension, he said the collective desire of Rwandans who craved for sustainable peace and socio-economic development after going through the pains of the 1994 genocide remained paramount to him.
Applauding Rwandans for their high sense of moral values and deep sense of patriotism in the past 20 years, he faulted those who are keen on dictating what best suits Rwanda from abroad even when they are not in the know of realities on the ground.
He noted: “There is no problem with advice or criticism from any quarter, because it can benefit us. But statements that acknowledge our good results, while depicting Rwandans as people incapable of either thought or feeling, are not critical, they are deliberately abusive. To that, we listen, we pay attention, and put all that where it belongs.
These Rwandans have told us that we can do more and better, even faster. And they are right. We don’t want to be a status quo country or status quo people. Vision 2020 was about what we had to do in order to survive and regain our dignity. But Vision 2050 has to be about the future we choose, because we can, and because we deserve it.
Rwandans will not be satisfied to live paycheck to paycheck, harvest to harvest, without accumulating wealth and financial security. They want to live close to the families they love and watch them thrive. They want access to world-class education, right here at home.
They aspire to travel the world in search of new ideas and experiences, unhindered by barriers. And then fly proudly back home to Rwanda, because there is no other place they would rather live. Rwandans want a good politics that keeps delivering results, and always respects the fundamental principles established in our Constitution.
“They also expect a democracy in which public office is routinely transferred from one individual of their choice to another, yet real power and decision-making always remain firmly in the hands of the people themselves .If this sounds right, then we are together. That means: Not alone, but all of us.
This is not a vision that can be brought about by any government on its own, or from outside, much less by a president. It requires the full effort and participation of each of us at our various levels and sectors.”
Themed “Rwandans’ Choices – Foundation for National Development and Dignity”, this year’s Umushyikirano provides an opportunity for Rwandans to articulate their choices for the future they so desire.
Shedding light on the National Dialogue Council, the Minister in the Office of the President, Venantie Tugireyezu, disclosed that over 1,000 participants comprising representatives from local government entities, faith-based organisations, diplomats, and Rwandans from the diaspora participated in the two-day consultative meeting to reflect on the country’s progress and share ideas to solve challenges in the years ahead.
He said: “In the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, Rwandans chose unity, security and good governance as key ingredients for development. As a result of the choices made, over the last two decades, Rwanda registered tremendous political and social economic progress. Rwandans recognise that the sustainability of the country’s achievements will depend on the choices they make today, and their ability to uphold them.”