NAIROBI (Reuters) – Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said he will stand for re-election next year, hoping to extend nearly a quarter of a century in power.
Kagame, who became president in 2000, is eligible to continue in office for another decade after a constitutional amendment in 2015 changed term limits that would have forced him to step down two years later.
He was asked in an interview with the pan-African Jeune Afrique magazine published on Tuesday about his intentions for next year’s election.
“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,” he said.
Kagame won the last election in August 2017 for a seven-year term with 98.63% of the vote, according to the electoral commission.
Kagame has won international acclaim for presiding over peace and economic growth since the end of the 1994 genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
But he has faced mounting criticism for what human rights groups say are the suppression of political opposition and the muzzling of independent media.
Kagame has rejected these accusations.
The United States in 2015 criticised the constitutional change, saying Kagame should step down when his term ended and allow a new generation of leaders to come through.
In the interview with Jeune Afrique, Kagame said he was not bothered by criticism from Western countries.
“People are supposed to be independent and should be allowed to organise themselves as they wish,” he said.
(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Aaron Ross and Toby Chopra)