Parliament: Nation calls for removal of term limits

Of millions of Rwandans consulted by lawmakers on the need to amend Article 101 of the Constitution in the past few weeks, only 10 were against the idea as the majority called for the scrapping of term limits so that President Paul Kagame continues to lead the nation after 2017.
This was part of the findings presented to the Chamber of Deputies by Deputy Speaker Jeanne d’Arc Uwimanimpaye, yesterday.

Members of both chambers of Parliament on July 20 embarked on a countrywide tour to gather views on the proposed amendment of Article 101 of the Constitution, following demands by millions of Rwandans that obstacles be removed to ensure President Kagame continues leading after 2017.

Uwimanimpaye listed numerous reasons given by people in all the sectors countrywide, including the fact that: Kagame effectively led the 1990-94 liberation war; stopped the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi; and satisfactorily managed the country’s economic revival.

University students, business people, civil society, church leaders, and many other sections of the community were consulted.

“He did not only unite the nation and remove ethnic tags from the national identity card but he also brought about security and the country enjoys utmost security. He ensured the return and resettlement of refugees who were spread in various countries,” Uwimanimpaye said as she read from the House’s summarised report.

Three resolutions

Uwimanimpaye listed three key resolutions in the report.

The first is that most Rwandans want an amendment of Article 101 of the 2003 Constitution.

There are varying proposals on length of a mandate but those consulted collectively agreed that term limits be removed from the Constitution.

However, the majority requested a mechanism be put in place such that whoever demonstrates poor leadership qualities can be impeached.

Those who opposed the idea of amending Article 101, Uwimanimpaye said, also shared their views.

Among those, she said, they indicated that the clause should not be amended but instead, another leader similar to Kagame could be identified to carry on.

They pointed to the term limits stipulated in the Constitution as the basis for their objection, she said.

During a parallel session held in the Senate, yesterday, Sen. Apollinaire Mushinzimana called on the Senate to set up a technical committee to implement the amendment procedures.

What next?

After the lawmakers’ report was approved yesterday, the House unanimously agreed that a bill should be voted to ensure that the establishment of a Constitutional Commission is expedited.

It is this Constitutional Commission that will draft proposed amendments to the Constitution bearing in mind the majority of the population’s wishes and then present it for approval by the Chamber of Deputies.

If approved by the Chamber of Deputies, the draft amendments will then be reviewed by the Senate’s Standing Committee on Political Affairs. If approved by the Senate, it will then become a law.

After this, a referendum will be held to determine whether this new legislation will become Rwanda’s new Constitution, effectively the current supreme law.