Washington, DC - The United States is deeply disappointed that President Paul Kagame has announced his intention to run for a third term in office.

With this decision, President Kagame ignores an historic opportunity to reinforce and solidify the democratic institutions the Rwandan people have for more than twenty years labored so hard to establish.

The United States believes constitutional transitions of power are essential for strong democracies and that efforts by incumbents to change rules to stay in power weaken democratic institutions. We are particularly concerned by changes that favor one individual over the principle of democratic transitions.

As Rwanda moves toward local elections this year, presidential elections next year, and parliamentary elections in 2018, we call upon the Government of Rwanda to ensure and respect the rights of its citizens to exercise their freedom of expression, conscience, and peaceful assembly -- the hallmarks of true democracies.

The United States remains committed to supporting the free and full participation of the Rwandan people in the electoral processes ahead.