President Paul Kagame says the people of Rwanda democratically chose to lift term limits to allow him to remain in office beyond 2017.

In an address to the nation Monday, Kagame castigated western critics of constitutional amendments to extend term limits, saying democracy in Rwanda is becoming stronger. The U.S., a key Rwandan alley, has opposed Kagame's bid to stay in power.

Kagame said he welcomes criticism but not statements that portray Rwandans as people incapable of either thought or feeling.

Ninety-eight percent of Rwandan voted for term limits to be lifted for Kagame to extend his term possibly to 2034 according to officials results of a referendum released Monday.

Kagame became president in 2000 after being Rwanda's de facto leader since the end of the country's genocide in 1994.