Even after the maneuvered Referendum, according to the new Constitution, Paul Kagame’s candidature remains unconstitutional
- Notwithstanding the propaganda orchestrated by Paul Kagame team, his ordered constitutional reform followed by the controversial referendum that took place on 18th of December 2015 and declared won with an historic 98,3% score, Paul Kagame’s reelection remains constitutionally baseless
- By analytically reviewing the Articles 101 and 172 of the revised Constitution, one realizes that Paul Kagame has no right whatsoever to run a campaign for his third term.
- However, during his new year’s message, Paul Kagame has just declared his candidacy for the 2017 upcoming presidential elections, therefore suddenly and definitely making himself an «unconstitutional» candidate.
Subsequently, the leading Team of ISHEMA Party declares the following:
I.Article 101 revised
- Before the revision, the article 101 of the 2003 Rwandan Constitution, posited:
«The President of the Republic is elected for a term of seven years renewable only once.
Under no circumstances shall a person hold the office of President of Republic for more than two terms”.
And following is the Article 101 written in the revised Constitution of December 2015:
«The President of the Republic is elected for a five (5) year term. He or she may be re-elected once ».
- So far the constitutional reform sets up the sole change from a seven-year to a five-year presidential term whilst maintaining dearly the principle of no more than two terms. It is noteworthy that the simple transition from the seven-year to five-year presidential term does not in any way permit Paul Kagame to run for presidency at the end of his second term.
II. Article 172 newly designed
- A unique article was introduced seemingly with the aim to grant Paul Kagame a special status by allowing him the possibility to run for the third term, and tentatively stick with power until 2034. Nevertheless after diverse maneuverings the legal text is more than crystal clear: it simply does not allow Paul Kagame to run for a third term.
Here is the text of the famous Article 172:
« The President of the Republic in office at the time this revised Constitution comes into force continues to serve the term of office for which he was elected.
Without prejudice to Article 101 of this Constitution, considering the petitions submitted by Rwandans that preceded the coming into force of this revised Constitution, which were informed by the particular challenges of Rwanda’s tragic history and the choice made to overcome them, the progress so far achieved and the desire to lay a firm foundation for sustainable development, a seven (7) year presidential term of office is established and shall follow the completion of the term of office referred to in the first paragraph of this Article.
The provisions of Article 101 of this Constitution shall take effect after the seven (7) year term of office referred to in the second paragraph of this Article”.
2.Therefore, this article sets the orders as follows:
- A single seven-year term before the implementation of the five-year terms regime
- The incumbent president during the constitutional revision shall pursue his term until it is over (2017), this being applicable as well to all members of the parliament in both chambers.
That is all. No paragraph does grant an exception to the current president to run for the third term at the end of the second.
III. The principle of legal non-retroactivity in application
1.The Rwandan Constitution revised in December 2015, published in the official gazette in its special issue on the 24th December 2015 and implemented from the same day, does not hold the annihilation capacity upon Kagame’s two previous terms. It on contrary recognizes the two terms by confirming that Kagame should pursue his current term. See the first paragraph of Article 172.
2. As such, the revised Constitution having failed to neither create new rights nor exceptional provisions for the incumbent, Paul Kagame’s tentative candidacy must always respect the principle of presidential term limits.
3.Paul Kagame shall not run for the third presidential term constitutionally baseless.
4. For that, by unexpectedly announcing his candidature, eighteen months before future electoral timing, President Paul Kagame is caught red handed in violation of the Rwandan Constitution.
IV. To the International Community, the partners of Rwanda, the organizations of human, civil and political rights as well as all friends of Democracy, we recommend:
1.To take time and re-read analytically the Rwandan Constitution.
2.To Dissuade Paul Kagame in his attempt to violate the Constitution.
3.To assist Rwandans in the struggle to make sure the Constitution is duly respected, to arrest and try Paul Kagame once he stubbornly transgresses against the Constitution.
4.To exercise pressure on Paul Kagame in order to open up the political space, to set free all political prisoners, and to accept the dialogue between the government and the political opposition with the aim to prepare a conducive political environment prior to the elections of 2017.
5.To support the members of ISHEMA Party and New Generation partners in their plans to return and take part in the political life in Rwanda according to modalities set by the congress to be held in Bruxelles from 15th to 17th January 2016.
Done at Paris, on January 2nd 2016.
Rev Father Thomas NAHIMANA
ISHEMA Party Leader
The candidate of ISHEMA Party and the New Generation Coalition for 2017 presidential elections.