PSD backs lifting of term limits

The Social Democratic Party of Rwanda (PSD) has added its voice to proponents and supporters of amendment of the Constitution to lift presidential term limits. The position was announced at the weekend during the party’s fifth congress.

The Social Democratic Party of Rwanda (PSD) has added its voice to proponents and supporters of amendment of the Constitution to lift presidential term limits.

The position was announced at the weekend during the party’s fifth congress.

For the past weeks, several Rwandans have been sending petitions to Parliament in favour of lifting presidential term limits.

Last week, representatives of over 250,000 youths from across the country walked to Parliament and urged lawmakers to call for a referendum to allow Article 101 of the Constitution be amended. The article restricts a head of state to a maximum of two seven-year terms in office.

About three million Rwandans are said to have already filed similar petitions to the House.

On Saturday, the Liberal Party issued a statement calling for a review of the constitution to allow President Paul Kagame to run for another term as president.

In the latest call, Dr Vincent Biruta, who was re-elected PSD president, said their view is that the question of term limits should be left to citizens to decide. 

“It is the reason in our party we support the amendment of the constitution if its what citizens wish,’’ said Dr Biruta, also the minister for natural resources.

“Amending the constitution does not deny us our right to contest for the country’s leadership. We’ve resolved to present our candidate in the forthcoming presidential election,” he said.

Dr Biruta, however, suggested the need for broader constitutional review process before calling for a referendum to see whether there are other articles of the constitution that may need amendment.

“A referendum would be an opportunity to look at other articles of the Constitution. The Constitution can be reviewed in line with the current situation but not going for referendum to amend only one article,” Biruta noted.

Citing an article on Gacaca jurisdiction that was phased out, he said the party believes there are other clauses which may need changing in the constitution.

The party is proposing five-year mandate for president without term limits, and increase of women threshold in leadership positions to 50 per cent from current 30 per cent.

Meanwhile, the same congress elected new party leadership for next five-year mandate, with Dr Jean Chrisostom Ngabitsinze as secretary-general.

Ngabitsinze, 38, pledged to contribute to the development of the party and the country by, among others, setting up a youth forum to harness youth development ideas.

Others who were elected include Olivier Nduhungirehe as first vice president, Venerand Nyirahendwa as second vice president, Aurelie Gahongayire as vice secretary-general in charge of gender, Jeanne Henriette Mukabikino as accountant, and Theodomir Nsengimana as vice secretary for youth.

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