KAMPALA (Reuters) - Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said on Monday he had no problem with calls for the constitution to be changed to allow him to run for a third term.
Kagame told a news conference in neighbouring Uganda’s capital Kampala that those asking him to run for president again were simply exercising their freedom of expression.
“I will not be uncomfortable at all with people saying this or the other,” Kagame said.
“There’s contradiction, on one hand you say people should have freedom to express themselves. On the other hand, you start questioning somebody expressing himself.”
Rwanda’s Internal Security minister, Sheikh Fazil Musa Harerimana, has been quoted in local media calling for the constitutional change to free Kagame to contest.
“This Sheikh has a right to express himself and it’s as if people expect me to go to this person and say ‘you shut up. Don’t talk about this anymore.’ No. This is not my business.”
Seventeen years on from a genocide which killed up to 800,000 people, Rwanda, under Kagame’s leadership, has become a darling of Western donors and investors.
But human rights groups have raised concerns about rising political repression, particularly around the time of an election last year in which Kagame won a second seven-year term.
The constitution says a referendum would be needed for any amendments to presidential term limits.
Kagame also used the news conference to say that an exiled Rwandan journalist who was murdered two weeks ago in Uganda was a thief who was killed because he stole money belonging to an association of genocide survivors.
Charles Ingabire, an editor of Rwanda’s Inyenyeri News website and a Kagame critic, was shot dead on December 1 at a bar in Kampala.
Kagame criticised the international media for blaming the death on his government without evidence.
“It’s just hearsay,” Kagame said. “Somebody has died, a journalist has died and, even before they know whether he has died because of an accident, the conclusion is that Kagame has killed him.”
Ingabire was the second Rwandan journalist shot dead in less than two years. According to watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists, six Rwandan journalists have fled the country since 2010, citing harassment and intimidation.