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Rwandans decide on presidential term limits

Counting is under way in Rwanda after a referendum that could change presidential term limits, and preliminary results show an overwhelming majority supporting the amendment that could allow President Paul Kagame to run for re-election in 2017.

According to the National Electoral Commission, as of 22:00 GMT the “yes” vote was 98 percent and the “no” vote was 1.9 percent.

The results are from the 21 districts with nine more districts yet to be counted.

Close to six million Rwandans voted in a referendum on a constitutional amendment that could see Kagame extending his leadership unto 2034.

The constitutional amendment proposes that starting in 2017, the president can serve for two terms, with each term equivalent to five years.

Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from a polling station in the capital Kigale, said Kagame has not said if he would stand for another term or not.

“He says he is going to wait for the outcome of this referendum so he can engage the will of the people as to how much they want him to run again.

“Opposition members, who are few in this country, say that this is not a democratic process, whereas government supporters say this is a representation of the people’s will,” Webb said.

Last month Rwanda’s upper house of parliament unanimously approved the constitutional amendment to allow Kagame to seek a third term.

Kagame, 58, has been at the forefront of Rwandan politics since 1994, when an offensive by his ethnic Tutsi rebel force, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, put an end to a genocide by Hutu fighters that left an estimated 800,000 of his community dead.

Kagame first served as minister of defence and vice president, and then took the presidency in 2003, winning 95 percent of the vote.

He was re-elected in 2010 for a second seven-year term with a similarly resounding mandate.

Source:Al Jazeera

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