KIGALI (Reuters) – Rwanda will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in July next year, when President Paul Kagame will seek to extend his roughly three decades in control of the East African country.
A presidential order in the official gazette said voting for president and 53 deputies in the lower house of parliament would happen across the country on July 15, and the remaining 27 deputies would be elected on July 16.
Kagame has been president since 2000 but effectively in control since his rebel force marched into Kigali in 1994 to end a genocide.
In September he told the Jeune Afrique magazine he would seek re-election, adding he was happy with Rwandans’ confidence in him.
He is eligible to continue in office for another decade, after a constitutional amendment in 2015 changed term limits.
A proposal by Kagame to allow the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held together was approved by the cabinet in March.
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 rejects those 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.
(Reporting by Philbert Girinema; Writing by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Alexander Winning and Alison Williams)