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Why did Kagame have to do this?

By Abbey Semuwemba
President Paul Kagame
President Paul Kagame
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I still can't believe that Rwanda's Paul Kagame has removed the term limits and he's running for president again. He's one man I thought was too principled to do anything like that. And to make it worse, he has seemingly hired the likes of Andrew Mwenda to make the whole story look like he was persuaded by majority of Rwandese to do so. OK, even if it was the case, what good is that for Rwanda in the long term?

I've always hated political dynasties of the kind in Africa that lead to a corrupt representative holding onto a seat for generations.The idea of term limits is, in part, to get rid of career politicians.That is why I have always supported a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on the presidency and parliamentarians in Uganda. Both MPs and the president shouldn't serve for more than three and two terms respectively.

Actually, we should do what Honduras did and go a step further, imposing not just a two term limit for president but writing a clause into the national constitution that makes it a crime for a sitting president to any attempt or even suggest extending his term,with the penalty being his immediate removal from office.This happened in 2009, with president Manuel Zelaya escorted of his office by soldiers in what leftists called a "coup," but was actually a legal arrest warrant issued by the supreme court and approved by the national parliament, endorsed even by members of his own party.

Abolishing term limits also implies the institutions of government are weak, that only this single charismatic leader is capabable of leading the country, that everything will collapse if he isn't re-elected forever. And this is exactly what happens when the institutions of state are powerless tokens of the dictator. People want a dictator, and sometimes dictators are effective leaders, but when they eventually die the whole system collapses.It has happened in Libya when Gadafi was holding everything together. So, I don't know why any patriotic leader would want to subject his country to that 'death-wish' in the name of 'people still love me and want me to stay forever'. Its bullshit,guys, and Kagame knows it.

Members of parliament:
Too often today our members of parliament too seek re-election not by making an argument to their constituents, but by making more false promises and issuing an ultimatum. It usually goes something like this: “I know we’re all citizens of Uganda and that means you can vote for whomever you want, but given the amount of seniority, influence and authority that I’ve built up while in parliament and working with the president, if you don’t vote for me, our constituency will lose out.” This is mostly typical of NRM candidates standing for MP anywhere.

But this is not a choice—it’s a ploy to keep themselves as indefinite parliamentarians at the expense of everyone else.Seems like some of these politicians have been in there for a long time. A government of, by, and for the people requires leaders who are more interested in securing the common good rather than maximizing their own power and prestige.

However,a fundamentally bad feature of term limits is that it violates the rights of voters, and quite possibly equal protection rights of office seekers, and this is usually the case in stable democracies. Voters ought to be able to vote for whom they want. An office seeker who has violated no laws and is otherwise eligible for the office ought to be able to seek the office.The problem with this in Africa is that the removal of term limits does the opposite: it makes a leader to do whatever he wants while in office very well knowing there is nothing constitutionally possible to remove him from power. Yes, its just impossible to remove an African leader from power using the constiution. Its difficult to impeach an African president as its difficult to remove them via elections due to election rigging. So, term limits becomes the only way you can get a breather from a bad president.

In developed nations where there are no term limits,the way they get a better government is not to put ridiculous restrictions on who can run for office.The way they do it is to restrict what a government can do, through constitutional amendment if necessary. But in Africa, Rwanda and Uganda in particular, the current leaders there are like everything. Actually one could make a lot of money and win influence out of a petition to keep Museveni or Kagame in power indefinitely, than resisting it. Already Ms.Evelyn Anite benefitted from this, as surely Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga also intends to benefit from age limit removal.

A lot of African leaders, Kagame and Museveni included, do a lot of bad stuff to those that oppose them.Such actions are not those of someone who is just going to walk away from power leaving their opposition with the same authority.

In Uganda, we have a president who clearly isn't liked anymore by majority of Ugandans, but if that doesnt stop him from having breakfast with a smile,then he's either off his rocker or he doesn't give a damn about no stinking election. My guess is the former: presidential elections have always had one 'winner' since 1996 even before they kick off.In poker, comparitive behavior would be a sign of a player holding a "pat hand". Dear Leader claims to be promoting a certain political ideology(whatever that is), he is the only human being on earth capable of guiding the pearl of Africa to paradise.

For the record,there is nothing Chairman Museveni or Mr.Kagame do that some other douche in a suit or millitary combat can't do, and to suggest that Uganda or Rwanda will fall apart unless we make them both presidents-for-life threatens regional democracy and constitutional republic. Instead of intimidating voters into supporting the candidate with a proven record of leading a country through troubled times, people should be empowered to choose the candidate they think is best suited to help preserve their government of, by, and for the people.

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
"In tribute to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Uganda, two bastions of strength in a world filled with strife, discrimination and terrorism."