Rwandan President Paul Kagame has declared for the first time that he will run for a fourth term in next year’s elections.
“I am happy with the confidence Rwandans have shown in me. I will always serve them as long as I can. Yes, I am indeed a candidate,” Mr Kagame, 65, told the French-language magazine Jeune Afrique.
In March this year, the Rwandan government sought to synchronize the dates of its legislative and presidential polls set to take place in August 2024.
Until then, Kagame had not openly expressed his intentions. He has, however, made controversial constitutional amendments that have enabled him to serve a third term and could allow him to govern until 2034.
A ex-rebel leader, Kagame has been considered the nation’s de facto leader since the end of the 1994 genocide.
He was returned to power – with over 90% of the vote – in the 2003, 2010 and 2017 elections.
While Rwanda now claims to be one of the most stable countries on the African continent, human rights groups accuse Kagame of ruling in a climate of fear, stifling dissent and freedom of expression.