Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, was born on 23 October 1957. He is also serving a one-year term as Chairperson of the African Union, and has been leading the institutional reform of the African Union since 2016. Beginning in 1990, as commander of the forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, he led the struggle to liberate Rwanda.
The RPF halted the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, which claimed over a million victims. The hallmarks of President Kagame’s administration are peace and reconciliation, women’s empowerment, promotion of investment and entrepreneurship, and access to information technology, a cause he also champions as Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
At the age of 22 in 1979, he joined the future President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, in a movement of resistance to the dictatorship of Idi Amin Dada, who became the NRA, National Resistance Army. Several Rwandan refugees are also part of the core of this resistance who will then face the dictatorship of Milton Obote, then that of Tito Okello. This period will allow Fred Rwigema and Paul Kagame to build a politico-revolutionary culture, in which the great revolutionary figures of Latin America and China have a preponderant place.
In 1986, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni became President of the Republic of Uganda and several of his Rwandan comrades-in-arms, becoming officers in the Ugandan army. The story goes that Yoweri Kaguta Museveni invited the President of Rwanda at the time, Juvenal Habyarimana, on an official visit, to grade these “Ugandan” officers himself, a sign of an unwavering friendship between the two Presidents. Married to Jeannette in 1989, whose family was a refugee in Burundi, he is the father of four children.
Paul Kagame’s arrival on the international scene
Paul Kagame and George W. Bush, in April 2005 at the White House. Coming from Uganda, on 1 October 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of Fred Rwigema begins the return to Rwanda of Rwandan exiles, refugees from 1959 On 2 October 1990, Fred Rwigema was killed in combat, or by his friends according to the Rwandan Armed Forces of the Habyarimana regime. The death of this emblematic leader will be hidden for several days RPF fighters.
Its leaders are in disarray. Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, very close to RPF officials, many of whom have distinguished themselves as officers in his army’s ranks, is imposing his military intelligence chief, Paul Kagame, Fred Rwigema’s old friend, to resolve this circumstantial crisis. RPF. Paul Kagame,
From 1991 to 1993, alternating fights, defeats and victories, Paul Kagame will negotiate at the same time the agreements of Arusha with the President Juvenal Habyarimana, pushed to the discussion by France, through Pastor Bizimungu that he will elect president of the Republic of the transitional period, after the genocide.
During the period of these negotiations and during a stay from 17 to 23 September 1991, Paul Kagame will be arrested in Paris by the French services a dozen hours, on the ground of terrorism, just after being received by Jean-Christophe Mitterrand and Paul Dijoud advised the French government for African Affairs at the Elysee. Paul Dijoud will justify this arrestion: “The accompaniers of Major Kagame, who circulated with suitcases of tickets,
In 1994, at the time of the attack against President Juvenal Habyarimana, the Belgian soldiers of the Minuar are accused by those who are preparing to form the interim government to be the perpetrators. Ten of them are murdered the next day by soldiers at Camp Kigali. Paul Kagame will then be accused of having ordered the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana, notably by France, the French anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, and by dissident RPF officers.
Paul Kagame will lead the RPF troops to the military victory against the Rwandan Armed Forces and the interim government. In spite of lower troops in numbers (15,000 men against 50,000) and military means less important, showing a great strategic sense and a great firmness, it will also benefit from the exhaustion of the enemy troops mobilizing all their energy in the conduct of a genocide that will make about 5 to 8000 deaths per day for one hundred days and will exterminate more than 90% of the Tutsi from the inside of Rwanda. He became Vice President of Rwanda and Minister of Defense on 19 July 1994.
“The strong man” of Rwanda
Paul Kagame will then be the architect of the reconstruction of Rwanda, completely destroyed and emptied by the genocide but also by the flight of more than two million Rwandans who went to the Democratic Republic of Congo to flee the new Rwandan justice or fearing revenge Tutsi.
But at the same time he is one of the main architects of the overthrow of his counterpart of Zaire in 1997, President Mobutu Sese Seko, whose country is ninety times larger than Rwanda. Relatives of his officers say that initially the Rwandans did not intend to overthrow Mobutu Sese Seko. But in front of the weak resistance they met in Zaire, they would have decided to go as far as Kinshasa, dragging Uganda, who did not want to be outdone, and
Paul Kagame was elected President of the Republic by Parliament on April 17, 2000, after obtaining the resignation of Pasteur Bizimungu. Following the introduction of a new constitution by referendum, he was re-elected by direct universal suffrage on 25 August 2003 with more than 95% of the votes.
The personality of Paul Kagame
The Westerners who approach Paul Kagame describe him as someone courteous, calm and lucid and with whom the “current goes well”. His detractors see him as a torturer, educated, implacably harsh, former spy chief of Kampala where he was nicknamed Kagome (umugome, “the villain” in Kinyarwanda).
Paul Kagame’s regime and human rights
Arguments of his supporters: 49% of deputies, 30% of senators and ministers are women. According to official information, Ms. Kagame plays a very active role in Rwanda’s social policy and the fight against AIDS, another scourge of genocide, of which rape was a weapon of choice, including girls under ten years old.
The fight against ethnicity is one of the themes of the RPF and Paul Kagame, well before the 1994 genocide. This fight against the ideology of ethnicity is inscribed in the new constitution.
Criticism and accusations against Paul Kagame
The official struggle against ethnicity is interpreted by Africanists such as Rony Brauman, Stephen Smith as a screen of Tutsi ethnicity. During the DRC campaign against the genocidal forces that had taken refuge there (Interahamwe militiamen and former Rwandan Armed Forces), Rwandan patriotic army troops were accused of having committed massacres of civilians.
In 1996-97, Kagame was accused of interfering in the internal affairs of Marshal Mobutu’s Zaire and violating its national sovereignty. This interference will lead to the first Congo war and the fall of Mobutu. According to its opponents, the guilt of the international community towards the 1994 genocide, which caused 800,000 deaths according to the United Nations, is probably no stranger to it.
The only personality who could have been a serious opponent in the 2003 presidential elections, former President of the Republic Pasteur Bizimungu, was jailed for fifteen years, six months before the elections, by Rwandan justice. Disappearances of several opponents and killings are deplored. Others were mistreated during the election campaign.
Assassination of President Habyarimana
An investigation is opened in France concerning the attack against President Juvenal Habyarimana in April 1994. In 1998, the families of the three French crew members of the crashed presidential plane lodged a complaint for “assassinations in connection with a terrorist enterprise” .
According to testimonies of former members of the RPF, the decision to eliminate Habyarimana was taken in late 1993 and early 1994 by the leaders of the Rwandan Patriotic Army, including Paul Kagame. Other theses involve the participation of the French army in the attack against Habyarimana.
On 21 November 2006, the Paris public prosecutor’s office gave the judge Jean-Louis Bruguière permission to issue international arrest warrants for nine people close to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, including James Kabarebe, head of state. Major General of the Rwandan Defense Forces and Charles Kayonga, Chief of Staff of the Army.
The investigating judge can not institute proceedings against Paul Kagame because of the immunity granted in France to the heads of state in office. If he wishes, he must ask the United Nations to appeal to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania to bring a legal action against Paul Kagame.
- Paul Kagame Biography and Profile (Paul Kagame / New Tribune)