Supreme Court rules against Green Party constitutional amendment petition

Rwandans can go ahead and amend constitutional provisions on presidential term limits because the law provides for such a move, the Supreme Court ruled today.
Chief Justice Sam Rugege (R) delivers the verdict at the Supreme Court earlier today. (Faustin Niyigena)
Chief Justice Sam Rugege (R) delivers the verdict at the Supreme Court earlier today. (Faustin Niyigena)

Rwandans can go ahead and amend constitutional provisions on presidential term limits because the law provides for such a move, the Supreme Court ruled today.

The court was ruling on a case in which the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda challenged the ongoing process to amend article 101 of the Constitution which limits presidential terms to a maximum of two seven-year terms.

“All constitutional clauses but one are subject to change contrary to the petitioner’s arguments,” Chief Justice Prof Sam Rugege ruled, adding that only article 193 which provides for the process through which the Constitution can be amended was untouchable.

The court ruled that the effort to change the Constitution was not undemocratic or unusual, provided it respected the law. 

The Greens had petitioned the court on June 3 seeking to block the public efforts to amend the Constitution to give President Paul Kagame a chance to seek another term in office come 2017 when his second mandate ends.

Speaking to The New Times shortly after the ruling, Green Party lawyer Antoinette Mukamusoni said they respected the court’s decision.

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Green Party head Habineza (C) reads a copy of the verdict before signing on it in court today, flanked by party lawyer Antoinette Mukamusoni. Looking on, right, is Epimaque Rubango, a senior state attorney who represented the State in the case. (Faustin Niyigena)

The clause on presidential term limits can only be amended through a referendum after consent of two thirds of both chambers of Parliament.

Currently, the bi-cameral Parliament, with support from a technical team, is examining the Constitution with view to propose amendment of article 101 among other provisions.

Nearly four million Rwandans petitioned the House seeking initiation of the process to lift term limits from the 2003 Constitution to pave the way for a possible Kagame candidature in 2017.

The President has not indicated whether he intends to stand or not.

 

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