Although the US State Department said on Friday that “ [US] respect the ability of any parliament to pass legislation that reflects the will of the people it is elected to represent,” it stressed that “we continue to firmly support the principle of democratic transition of power in all countries through free, fair and credible elections, held in accordance with constitutions, including provisions regarding term limits.”
In this statement, the US reiterated its opposition to a possible bid for a third term by Rwandan President Paul Kagame. According to Africa Review, Rwanda’s Parliament last month moved to establish a Constitutional Reform Commission that could amend or remove an existing provision limiting a president to two terms in office.
Reports say, President Kagame, who has held the seat for the past 15 years, may well be popular enough to win a third term in elections scheduled for 2017. Some 3.7 million Rwandans—more than half the number of voters—reportedly signed a petition earlier this year calling for a change in Article 101 of the Constitution, which sets the two-term limit.
But the US State Department reportedly said Friday that “We do not support those in positions of power changing constitutions solely for their political self-interest.”
The US statement recalled President Obama saying in his July speech to the African Union: “When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife — as we’ve seen in Burundi. And this is often just a first step down a perilous path.”
The State Department also pointed out that President Kagame “has repeatedly stated his commitment to respecting constitutional term limits and to mentoring a generation of leaders able to sustain Rwanda's remarkable economic growth and stability.”
“The United States underscores the importance of these commitments.”