Not surprisingly, Rwandan President Paul Kagame was officially elected to lead by his party, the RPF, presidential candidate of 4 August.
After congratulatory speeches from representatives of major political parties across Africa and local opposition parties, Kagame took to the podium and said he was ‘very happy’ to be nominated as flag bearer of RPF-Inkotanyi party.
The RPF party nominated Kagame as its flag bearer after he was voted by 1929 party members (99% of the total vote) out of the 1930 members who voted.
“What made you ask me to stay longer may be addressed in next 7 years. I want you to think about it… I am not putting much pressure on you but I am asking you to think about it because you must think about it,” President told delegates at an extraordinary RPF party congress.
However, Kagame has again sent his party into a tactical homework tasking them to plan for a transition after him.
“There is no deadline. In the next 7 years I want you and I to work together, maybe double efforts to overcome the challenges that compel you to ask me to stay,” he said.
The RPF party held its major congress at the new state-of-the-art party headquarters with over 2000 party delegates including guests from across the continent.
Paul Kagame, the strongman of Rwanda since the end of the genocide in 1994, is allowed to run for a third term this year and theoretically lead the country until 2034 by a controversial reform of the Constitution adopted by referendum in 2015.
At the end of this extraordinary RPF party congress, the Rwandan president called on the members of his party to start thinking about his possible succession.
The only candidate declared to represent the RPF during the presidential election in August, this congress of the ruling party put an end to a false suspense. At the end of his appointment, Paul Kagame addressed the the big player of his party in a speech mixing Kinyarwanda and English.
” You asked me to stay and I stayed, ” Paul Kagame told a crowd of executives from his party, citing the recent constitutional reform to allow him to run for a third term this summer.
” I know the power of the RPF, which means that we are going to victory, ” he said, provoking a thunderous applause.
” I had no role ” in this reform, said Paul Kagame once again, before asking the RPF cadres to serve as a mandate to come and that it seems to have already been played in advance, to reflect on the transition.
” Here is the market “: ” We have to do things differently and work harder so that the next seven years give us a kind of transition, ” he said.
This reform, validated by referendum, was presented by the authorities as a purely popular initiative but was criticized by the opposition and many observers in a country often blamed for its lack of political openness and its freedom of speech.
” I ask you to fight with me to overcome the challenges that have forced you to ask me to stay, ” repeated Paul Kagame repeatedly. ” I do not give you a deadline, I do not put pre-conditions .” ” I ask you to think about it, ” he added.
Paul Kagame’s decision to run again this year was criticized by the United States. For now, four small opposition candidates have announced their willingness to stand before the all-powerful outgoing president. Their nominations have yet to be validated by the electoral commission.
Axadle International Monitoring – Africa