Rwanda’s Supreme Court has said it will hear a case on whether the country’s President Paul Kagame should be allowed to run for a third term as leader.
The move on Wednesday came after parliament voted to change the constitution and lifted a two-term limit amid widespread calls for Kagame not to stand down after his current term.
The proposals were voted on after the presentation of a petition to legislators that had garnered more than 3.8 million signatures in support of the move.
Kagame still has two years remaining before his current mandate expires.
Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from Kigali, said Kagame is widely credited with bringing stability and development to the country after its genocide in the 1990s.
“Parliament is just the beginning of the process, a commission has to be set up to review sections of the constitution that deal with the presidential term…eventually there must be a referendum where Rwandans will decide for themselves,” she said.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Julianna Kantengwa, a member of parliament, said international pressure on Kagame to not stand for the presidency again would not influence Rwandans.
“There’s international pressure for him not to do this. Then there’s pressure from Rwandans for him to run. Who should he listen to? I think the answer is obvious,” Kantengwa said.
‘Democracy taking course’
Domestic opposition to extending the term limit has come from the opposition Democratic Green Party, which asked the Supreme Court to block the move by parliament.
Andrew Wallace, a Central and East Africa specialist, told Al Jazeera that there was public support was the driving force behind attempts to change the term-limit.
“Democracy there is taking its course, the people want Kagame to stay on, he’s achieved a lot … it’s been a very successful country in terms of cutting corruption, and of course there is security,” Wallace said.
In neighbouring Burundi, a move by President Pierre Nkurunziza to stand for another term after his second term expired led to deadly civil unrest and an attempted coup.
Nkurunziza went on to win the election, which was boycotted by opposition groups.