[JURIST] Rwanda’s Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a case challenging a change to the constitution that would allow President Paul Kagame [official website] to run for a third seven-year term. The effort to extend the term limit has sparked concern with neighboring African countries as well as the US, which has remained a major donor and ally to Rwanda for several years. Last week the US State Department [official website] said that they “do not support those in positions of power changing constitutions solely for their political self-interest.” Kagame has been highly revered among the international community for his role in rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 genocide, which left 800,000 people dead. The constitutional changes come as a result of a motion backed by Rwanda’s parliament in July, which let Kagame run for president again. Roughly 3.8 million people out of 12 million residents in Rwanda submitted to parliament a petition in support of the constitutional change.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] has continued to try suspects in Rwanda and hear appeals for crimes that occurred during the 1994 genocide. In January two Rwandan police officers were sentenced [JURIST report] to 20 years in jail for the murder of a Transparency International [advocacy website] anti-corruption activist. Last July the ICTR unanimously affirmed [JURIST report] a 30-year jail sentence for former army chief Augustin Bizimungu for the role he played in the genocide. In December 2012 the ICTR convicted [JURIST report] former Rwandan minister Augustin Ngirabatware, sentencing him to 35 years in prison on charges of genocide, incitement to commit genocide and rape as a crime against humanity.