Rwandans are voting in a referendum on a constitutional amendment to allow President Paul Kagame to seek a third term in office. Most voters, some 6.4 million, are eligible to vote on Friday, but around 37,000 Rwandans living overseas were able to have their say on Thursday. BBC reports:
The change would allow Mr Kagame to potentially remain in power until 2034. Rwandans are expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of changing the constitution. Mr Kagame is praised at home and abroad for bringing about development and economic growth, reports the BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
But his critics accuse him of heavy-handed rule and human rights abuses, she adds. Mr Kagame himself has said he will wait for the outcome of the referendum before making his decision on whether to run in 2017. Rwanda’s Senate approved draft constitutional amendments last month allowing Mr Kagame to run for another seven-year term.
But the amendments also shorten the length of a term from seven to five years and maintain a two-term limit. However, those rules would not come into effect until 2024, after Mr Kagame’s third term. Mr Kagame could then potentially run for another two five-year terms – ruling for some 40 years.