The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame has vowed to contest for the fourth term in office during the election which will be held next year.
Kagame who has ruled the country for years told Jeune Afrique, a French-language news magazine, in an interview published online on Tuesday.
He said, “Yes, I am indeed a candidate.
“I am pleased with the confidence that Rwandans have placed in me. I will always serve them, as long as I can.”
The Rwandan government in March 2023 synchronised the date for its parliamentary and presidential elections.
Kagame in 2015 had presided over controversial constitutional amendments that allowed him to run for more terms and stay in power until 2034.
A former rebel chief, Kagame became president in April 2000 but has been regarded as the country’s de facto leader since the end of the 1994 genocide.
He was returned to office with more than 90 per cent of the vote during the presidential elections held in 2003, 2010 and 2017.
In 2021, “Hotel Rwanda” hero and outspoken Kagame critic, Paul Rusesabagina was sentenced to 25 years in jail on terrorism charges, following his arrest the previous year when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed instead in Kigali in what his family called a kidnapping.
Freed from jail in March this year and flown to the United States following a presidential pardon, Rusesabagina released a video message in July, saying that Rwandans are “prisoners in their own country”.
Kagame when asked in 2022 if he would seek re-election said he would “consider running for another 20 years”.
“Elections are about people choosing,” he told the France 24 news channel in an interview.
Kagame was just 36 when his Rwandan Patriotic Front party forced out Hutu extremists blamed for the genocide in which some 800,000 people, mainly Tutsi but also moderate Hutus, were murdered between April and July 1994.