Cabinet asks President Kagame to call a referendum on Constitution


Residents of Gikomero Sector in Gasabo District vote for the removal of term limits during consultation sessions with Members of Parliament in July. (File)

Members of the Cabinet yesterday asked President Paul Kagame to call a referendum for Rwandans to approve the recently revised Constitution of the country.

The decision was reached during an Extraordinary Cabinet Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi, which was held at Village Urugwiro.

The decision is a response to the request made by Parliament on Tuesday which asked the government to enforce legal provisions regarding a referendum on the 2015 Revised Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda of June 4, 2003.

“Pursuant to Articles 109 and 193 of the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda of 04 June 2003, as amended to date and considering where the country has come from, its achievements and future perspectives, the Cabinet meeting approved to request the President of the Republic to call a Referendum on 2015 Revised Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda of 04 June 2003,” says a Cabinet release issued yesterday.

The Parliament on Monday passed the revised Constitution, which can only be adopted once approved by citizens through a national referendum.

The requested referendum will be on the entire revised Constitution including presidential term limits.

“The request forwarded to him (President Kagame) is for a referendum on the revised Constitution because the revision was wide and far reaching and it includes provisions that mandatorily require a referendum to be revised,” Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Johnston Busingye, told The New Times yesterday.

Prior to responding to the request from Cabinet, the President will first seek advice from the Supreme Court as required by law.

Article 109 of the current Constitution says that “upon the proposal of the Cabinet and after receiving an advisory opinion of the Supreme Court, the President of the Republic may call a referendum on issues of general national interest, on a bill of an ordinary law, on a bill of an organic law or decree relating to the signature of an international treaty or agreement which is not inconsistent with the Constitution but has repercussions on functioning of state institutions”.

The article says that “should the referendum adopt the proposal, the President of the Republic promulgates it within a period of eight days as from the time of proclamation of the results of the referendum”.

Citizens have told lawmakers that they want a referendum on the Constitution to happen before the end of the year.

Parliament initiated changes to the country’s supreme law after more than 3.7 million Rwandans (59 per cent of eligible voters) had petitioned the House to review the law to allow President Kagame to continue leadership of the country beyond 2017 when his second term in office expires.