Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced for the first time on Tuesday that he will run for a fourth term in elections due to be held next year.
Kagame, who has ruled over the country with an iron fist for decades, told Jeune Afrique, a French-language news magazine, in an interview published online on Tuesday that he is indeed a candidate.
“I am pleased with the confidence that Rwandans have placed in me,” the 65-year-old was quoted as saying. “I will always serve them, as long as I can.”
Kagame had previously not made his intentions clear, but presided over controversial constitutional amendments in 2015 that allowed him to run for more terms and stay in power until 2034.
Kagame has been criticized for his authoritarian rule and his government’s human rights record. However, he is also credited with overseeing Rwanda’s rapid economic and social transformation since the 1994 genocide.
Kagame’s only known challenger in the upcoming elections is opposition Green Party leader Frank Habineza, who announced in May his intention to run in 2024.
Habineza said that Kagame’s plan to stand again next year “is not a surprise”.
“We are not scared of him, we are getting organised better as a political party to put up a better campaign than we did in 2017. We are confident,” he told AFP in Kigali.
“Democracy is a struggle so we shall continue to fight democratically for political space and democracy, rule of law and human rights in Rwanda.”