When citizens demand lifting of presidential term limits

  • By Mwene Kalinda, James Munanura
  • July 06, 2013
When President Kagame visited Nyamagabe District in February, citizens asked him to serve for an extra term. The New Times /Village Urugwiro.


I am genuinely divided on this question, understanding and supporting both sides of the debate in turn. I too am filled with trepidation at a Rwanda without President Kagame’s steady and masterly hand at the helm, but also fully appreciate the benefits of a leadership transition under his guidance and as a safeguard against the consequences of any kind of a “Manchurian Candidate”.

Ultimately though, a constitution isn’t a straitjacket but a living covenant with built-in rules for amendment as the polity requires. As long as the necessary minimum proportion of Rwandans required by the Constitution want a revision to that sacred document to cater to fundamental change in national need, then we should all be prepared to accept such change.

And only the views of Rwandans, alone, are relevant to this issue. Outsiders may express theirs but we are not obliged to take them into account.

Mwene Kalinda, Kigali, Rwanda


I believe in His Excellency President Paul Kagame; he is the best leader Rwanda has ever had. Under his exceptional, visionary and charismatic leadership, Rwanda has witnessed true transformation.

But one of the reasons for term limits is to avoid future abuse by others who may follow.

Any slight change to the present constitutional term limits opens the door to future abuse.

Nonetheless, power belongs to the people: If they change the constitutional term limits by referendum, then they will have opened the door themselves. We shall then be like the other African countries. I would wish that Rwanda sets a record which no other African leader has set with our President being the youngest African leader to leave power without tampering with the constitution.

This is a legacy which all his predecessors will fear to tamper with. He will be next to Nelson Mandela as Africa’s most influential leader if he does this. But I strongly believe in his incomparable leadership qualities, and I will vote him if term limits are extended.

James Munanura,Makerere Univeristy, Kampala, Uganda

Reactions to Salim Mugabo’s opinion, “When citizens demand lifting of presidential term limits”, (The New Times, July 1)


I'm curious, James: would it be the leader "tampering" with the Constitution in such a scenario ... or the people? Surely the Constitution would have provisions for its amendment, and surely such change would not emanate from the leader but rather the will of the people.

10:03:08 Saturday 06th, July 2013 Eastern Suburbs - Peter DM

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James you spoke my mind. I am Kenyan and I wish to have Kagame as my president, but I cant, may be as an EAC president if it ever comes to reality.

To term limits, it is really tempting to ask him for more service given his track record, but I would love him to turn down the request from wananchi or the urge should it be within him. While yes the constitution is amendable, doing so will set a bad trend that can occur again in future even when it is not in the interest of citizens.

Bad regimes can always use the name of citizens and use state machinery to get results they want in referendums as seen in some African countries.

So the best legacy Kagame can leave not only just for Rwanda but also the world and for generations to come, is to quit. As James said, we need more statesmen to join Mandela caliber, and you forgot Nyerere. Tanzania doesn't have any problem with political transition owing to what Nyerere did. But then, it is up to Rwandans to decide.

21:30:39 Saturday 06th, July 2013 kigali - andrew

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