Namibia: Kagame Mum On Retirement

HAVING been at the helm of his country nearly two decades, there are no indications of president Paul Kagame of Rwanda stepping down anytime soon.

Kagame ascended to power in 2000 and is currently serving his third seven-year term.

In 2017, Rwanda approved changes to the constitution that allow Kagame to stay in power until 2034. This includes his current term, followed by two five-year terms. As to when he retires, that is up to the people of Rwanda, he said, when local journalists quizzed him on the subject. According to him, how long he stays in power is a Rwandan problem.

"Let them worry about that [my term]," he said. He made these remarks during a media briefing at State House yesterday, where he was hosted by president Hage Geingob.

At the onset, Kagame indicated that he never knew that he would one day become president of his country but "fate chose me".

"I wasn't [sure] if I would become president before I became president [but I] became president [and] I've been doing everything possible to fit in that role," he said.

Kagame indicated that he wanted to step down as head of state in 2017 when his second term came to an end.

"Two years ago, when we had an election, before that I had wanted to have them [Rwandese] choose my successor. They are the ones who declined," he said.

However, Kagame will one day have to go against the wishes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front and people.

"Yes, sometimes I follow their dictates as far as that problem is concerned. I will also consider my position as a human being," he said.

Many continental and international media reports suggest that Kagame is a paradox.

On one hand, Kagame is credited to have overseen a longstanding regime of peace, stability and economic growth in his country while also strengthening political and social institutions.

"He is a reformer... he is a doer... in this short time, I was in a university [being lectured by Kagame]. I am very happy to welcome my brother. Feel at home," Geingob said to Kagame in his opening remarks during the briefing.

However, it is not all rosy in Rwanda - at least according to media reports - as Kagame is said to have refused to let go of power. He stands accused of having supervised some of the most oppressive political spaces in Africa, silencing dissent with impunity, promoting a climate of fear and muzzling the press. Kagame dismissed these allegations.

"We are happy with what we have," he said. The Rwandan leader is in Namibia for a three-day official visit.

- Nampa

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