Rwanda’s top court clears way for Kagame third term

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Rwanda’s Supreme Court ruled on Thurs­day that Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame could run for a third seven-year term, re­ject­ing an at­tempt by the main op­po­si­tion party to block changes to the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion.

In the latest in­stance of an African leader seek­ing to ex­tend his days in power, the Kagame-con­trolled par­lia­ment backed a mo­tion in July to let him run again as leader of the east African state.

The con­sti­tu­tional changes must pass a ref­er­en­dum although there is lit­tle chance of them fail­ing due to Kagame’s con­trol over the media and many as­pects of public life, as well as his pop­u­lar­ity as a na­tion-builder af­ter a 1994 geno­cide.

“All de­pends on the opin­ions of the peo­ple,” the Supreme Court said in its rul­ing.

The op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Green Party, which brought the case be­fore the Supreme Court, said it would con­tinue to push for pro­tec­tion of ex­ist­ing con­sti­tu­tional term lim­its, a hot topic in Africa af­ter sim­i­lar moves by re­gional lead­ers.

“We are not happy but we’ve not given up. We are go­ing to ap­peal to the pres­i­dent,” Green party leader Frank Habineza told Reuters af­ter the de­ci­sion.

Kagame has not said ex­plic­itly that he wants to run again but has made clear he is open to per­sua­sion. A Brazil­ian au­dit court has ruled that Pres­i­dent Dilma Rouss­eff broke the law in man­ag­ing last year’s bud­get.

The gov­ern­ment was ac­cused of bor­row­ing money il­le­gally from state banks to make up for bud­get short­falls.

The op­po­si­tion says the rul­ing by the Fed­eral Ac­counts Court - which re­ports to Congress - paves the way for im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against Ms Rouss­eff.

She was re-elected less than a year ago but has record low pop­u­lar­ity rat­ings.

The Brazil­ian gov­ern­ment says it would chal­lenge Wed­nes­day’s rul­ing in the Supreme Court.

“The game is not over,” said At­tor­ney Gen­eral Luis Adams.

The min­is­ter who han­dled the case in the Ac­counts Court, Au­gusto Nardes, said the gov­ern­ment dis­re­garded fis­cal and con­sti­tu­tional prin­ci­ples in the han­dling of the 2014 ac­counts.

Ms Rouss­eff’s gov­ern­ment raised spend­ing “with­out fis­cal sus­tain­abil­ity and with­out the re­quired trans­parency”, said Mr Nardes.

The ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties amount to more than $26bn, the court said.

Gen Gil­bert Dien­dere ad­mit­ted the coup was a mis­take

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