By Jean-Pierre Afadhali
Ahead of August elections, Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame has said, he should not be asked if he is the only one who can lead the small central African country forever.
Speaking yesterday at a news conference in Kigali, Rwanda; president Kagame distanced himself from the belief that Rwanda’s future without him is impossible, saying the question should be asked to those who believe he is the only one who can lead Rwanda.
“Actually you are asking the wrong person, you should ask those people,” he said
Those who are saying without Kagame life can’t go on, he explained
“Have you heard me saying Rwanda is impossible without Kagame?” posed the incumbent, while responding to a question over what would happen if he faces life challenges such as health issues that would not allow him to govern Rwanda.
Last year the country held a referendum to allow president Kagame run for a third term in the office.
The overwhelming majority voted yes for the incumbent to stay in power .But the process was challenged in court by Green Party, the registered opposition party, which lost the case.
“It has never come from me at all,” the president emphasized on the day he presented his nominations paper at the National Election Commission (NEC).
President Kagame has led Rwanda for 17 years .He is credited for security after 1994 genocide against Tutsis and economic development; but often criticized for” poor” human rights record .
Some observers question his” weakness” to mentor a successor, but his supporters maintains he is the only one who can govern the great lakes country.
Recently two political parties, Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Liberal Party (PL) endorsed him to run for a third term.
“I should n’t respond on behalf of those who are in a debate I am not involved in,” president further commented.
“Yes it is a fact we are human beings, Kagame or anybody as we know has his/her life time on earth,”
I am not among those who say life is impossible without Kagame. I don’t know that and I can’t respond that, the Rwanda’ leader noted.
In August Kagame who has been confirmed by the ruling party ,Rwanda Patriotic Front as its flag bearer could face 5 challengers who have presented their nominations paper to NEC.
Aspirants who could run for presidency if approved by NEC are Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, independent candidates Gilbert Mwenedata, ,Philippe Mpayimana,Diane Shima Rwigara and Fred Ssekikubo.
President Kagame said he will do what he can as he is still healthy and has responsibilities to lead Rwanda, adding that the time he will not be there others will do what they can as well!
“They could do it be better than me or do it differently,” he said “People should think about all those issues,”
NEC is expected to announce the final list of qualified presidential candidates on July 7.
Official campaigns will start on July 14 and run until August 3, a day before elections in the country.