Africa’s most enlightened despot faces test of third term in Rwanda

World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23, 2015: the soft-spoken President Paul Kagame of Rwanda contradicts the stereotype of the African despot (source: dpa)
World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23, 2015: the soft-spoken President Paul Kagame of Rwanda contradicts the stereotype of the African despot (source: dpa)

As incumbent leaders seek to extend their time in power beyond legal limits, ‘third-termism’ or ‘constitutional coups’ have become a hot topic in African politics. In Rwanda, where leadership changes have always been accompanied by ethnic strife and violence, the constitution is being changed to allow a third term to President Paul Kagame. The country’s brutal history of genocide and its recovery under Mr Kagame’s tenure make it a singular test case. Future developments in Rwanda will expose the merits and limits of this African brand of ‘developmental authoritarianism,’ under which political competition and civil rights are suppressed in the name of national security and progress.

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