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Constitution of Rwanda

The Constitution of Rwanda was adopted by referendum on May 26, 2003. It replaced the older Constitution of 1991.

The Constitution provides for a presidential system of government, with separation of powers between the three branches. It condemns the Rwandan genocide in the preamble, expressing hope for reconciliation and prosperity.

Between 1994 and 2003 Rwanda was governed by a set of documents combining President Habyarimana's 1991 Constitution, the Arusha Accords, and some additional protocols introduced by the transitional government. As required by the Accords, Kagame set up a Constitutional Commission to draft a new permanent Constitution.The Constitution was required to adhere to a set of fundamental principles including equitable power sharing and democracy.

The Commission sought to ensure that the draft Constitution was "home-grown", relevant to Rwanda's specific needs and reflected the views of the entire population. They sent questionnaires to civil groups across the country and rejected offers of help from the international community, except for financial assistance.

The draft constitution was released in 2003; it was approved by the Parliament, and was then put to a referendum in May of that year. The government gave the referendum a high profile, which meant that ultimately 95% of eligible adults registered to vote and the turnout on voting day was 87%. The constitution was overwhelmingly accepted, with 93% voting in favour. This constitution, among other things, changed the country's official name from "Rwandese Republic" to "Republic of Rwanda".

A referendum on the Rwandan constitution was held on 18 December 2015. The amendments would allow President Paul Kagame to run for a third term in office in 2017, as well as shortening presidential terms from seven to five years, although the latter change would not come into effect until 2024. They were approved by around 98% of voters.


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