re posted from Presstv
Rwandans vote to lift presidential term limits: Early results
Initial results of a referendum in Rwanda point to overwhelming voter support for the extension of ruling President Paul Kagame’s term, the director of the electoral commission has said.
Over 98 percent of the votes counted so far from 21 of the total 30 districts – representing 70 percent of registered voters – show the voters would like the presidential term limits lifted, Mbanda Kalisa said on Saturday.
The results would alter the country’s constitution and allow Kagame to extend his presidency until 2034.
The supporters of the 58-year-old incumbent president celebrated the announcement in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. He has already served two terms.
If the constitutional amendment is approved, and if he wins a third seven-year term in a 2017 election, Kagame could potentially remain in power until 2034, as he would also be able to run for two five-year terms in addition to the potential 2017 term.
The final results of the vote are due to be released later on Saturday.
The referendum went ahead despite reported opposition to the move by Washington and other Western donors of the African country. The US has called for Kagame to quit in 2017 and allow “a new generation of leaders” to succeed him.
Kagame, however, has not yet declared his intention to re-run for presidency, but he is widely expected to. Responding to reporters’ inquiries on his plan to run for another term, he said, “What is happening is the people’s choice. Ask people why they want me.”
Kagame took official power as president in 2000 after being Rwanda’s de facto leader since the end of the country’s massive genocide in 1994.
He has been credited with stabilizing his country and promoting economic growth after the ethnic massacres. Critics say he is an authoritarian ruler and accuse him of human rights abuses and not tolerating political dissent.