Rwandan lawmakers have voted in support of a petition seeking to remove presidential term limits from the country's constitution, which could extend President Paul Kagame's time in office.

Before voting Tuesday, the lawmakers deliberated on a national petition urging them to remove term limits so Kagame can run again when his current term expires in 2017. A parliamentary committee will now consider the proposal, and later it will be subjected to a national referendum.

Kagame became president in 2000 and had been the country's de facto leader since the end of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Kagame's government is credited with turning around Rwanda's economy in the years since the genocide, but critics say he is an authoritarian ruler who does not tolerate opposition.