Marking a significant moment in Rwanda’s political timeline, on Wednesday, September 20th, President Paul Kagame declared his intention to seek re-election in the upcoming 2024 polls. This announcement comes after Kagame, who has been at the helm since 2000, benefited from a 2015 constitutional amendment, effectively allowing him to remain in office for another decade.
In a candid interview with the pan-African Jeune Afrique magazine, the 65-year-old leader expressed his gratitude for the trust Rwandans have placed in him. “I am happy with the confidence that the Rwandans have shown in me. I will always serve them, as much when I can. Yes, I am indeed a candidate,” Kagame affirmed.
Kagame’s leadership journey has been marked by both accolades and criticisms. While he has been credited with steering Rwanda towards stability and economic growth after the 1994 genocide, his tenure has also been shadowed by allegations of suppressing political opposition and curbing media freedom. This duality is evident in Rwanda’s ranking of 131 out of 180 countries in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
The president’s decision to run for a fourth term has elicited varied reactions. Green Party and opposition leader Frank Habineza, who is gearing up to challenge Kagame in the elections, remarked that the president’s decision “is not a surprise.” He added, “We are not scared of him, we are getting organized better as a political party to put up a better campaign than we did in 2017.”
The International community, particularly the United States, has previously voiced concerns over Rwanda’s constitutional amendments. However, Kagame remains unfazed by external opinions, stating, “I’m sorry for the West, but what the West thinks is not my problem.”
As Rwanda prepares for the 2024 elections, the political landscape is rife with anticipation. Kagame’s decision to seek re-election not only underscores his confidence in his leadership but also sets the stage for a crucial electoral battle that will shape Rwanda’s future trajectory.