Rwanda's opposition Democratic Green Party has filed a lawsuit demanding that the Supreme Court blocks any move by parliament to change the constitution to allow President Paul Kagame to run for a third term.
Kagame has said that he opposes eliminating the two-term limit but would be open to staying on if his supporters convince him. His second seven year term ends in 2017. Several of his supporters have called for the constitutional amendment.
Rwanda isn’t the only country in its region facing debates on term limits and presidential tenures. In neighboring Burundi protests have ensued for more than a month with opponents accusing President Pierre Nkurunziza of violating the constitution by seeking a third term.
A statement released by the opposition party on Wednesday said, "The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda demands the Supreme Court to order the Rwandan parliament not to change Article 101 of the constitution,"
Article 101 of Rwanda's constitution says the president's seven year term can be renewed once and "under no circumstances" should a person hold the office of president for more than two terms.
Kagame was elected with an overwhelming popularity after elections in 2003 and 2010. He has been seen as the country's most powerful figure since leading rebels into the capital, Kigali in 1994 to end a genocide that killed 800,000 of the minority Tutsis and moderates from the Hutu majority.
However, Kagame and his government have been criticized by rights groups for stifling media and political freedoms. The President and officials deny suppressing freedoms, saying they guarantee free speech and an open democratic process.
Democratic Green Party head Frank Habineza has said that, alongside seeking to keep a two-term limit, his party wants presidential terms shortened from the seven years.
Speaking in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski said: "Term limits encourage leaders to focus on leaving a good legacy, instead of perpetuating their own power."
"Term limits make it harder to build systems of patronage and corruption by ensuring political turnover, and they give new generations the opportunity to be leaders" he added.