Paul Kagame

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Paul Kagame
Image:Official Photograph of Paul Kagame.jpg


Assumed office 
March 24, 2000
Preceded by Pasteur Bizimungu

Born October 23, 1957
Gitarama, Rwanda
Political party Rwandan Patriotic Front

Paul Kagame (born October 23, 1957) is the current President of Rwanda and the founder of the Rwandan Patriotic Front. He came to prominence as the leader of the guerrilla RPF army, whose invasion of Rwanda is often cited as one precipitating event of the Rwandan Genocide. The RPF's victory over the incumbent Hutu Power government in July 1994 effectively ended the genocide. As President of Rwanda, Kagame is also known for his involvement in the Second Congo War.


[edit] Early life

Kagame was born in Gitarama, Rwanda. In November 1959, an increasingly restive Hutu population, encouraged by the Belgian military and the Catholic Church[citation needed], sparked a revolt, resulting in the overthrow of Mwami Kigeri V Ndahindurwa, the last monarch.

During the 1959 revolt and its aftermath, more than 160,000 Tutsis fled to neighbouring countries. In all, some 20,000 Tutsis were killed. Kagame left with his family at the age of four and moved to Uganda with many other Tutsis.

[edit] Military service in Uganda

His military career started in 1979, when he joined Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA) and spent years fighting as a guerrilla throughout Uganda.

On July 27, 1985, Milton Obote was ousted in a military coup led by Tito Okello. In 1986 the NRA succeeded in overthrowing Okello and the NRA leader Yoweri Museveni became president of Uganda.

President Paul Kagame shakes hands with U.S. President George W. Bush in the Oval Office in the White House.

This same year, Kagame was instrumental in forming, along with his close friend Fred Rwigema, the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), which was composed mainly of expatriate Rwandan Tutsi soldiers that had also fought with the NRA; the RPF was also based in Uganda.

In 1986, Kagame became the head of military intelligence in the NRA, and was regarded as one of Museveni's closest allies. He also joined the official Ugandan military.

[edit] Rwandan invasions and genocide

Main article: Rwandan Genocide

In October 1990, while Kagame was participating in a military training program at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the RPF invaded Rwanda. Only two days into the invasion, Rwigema was killed, making Kagame the military commander of the RPF. Despite initial successes, a force of French, Belgian, Rwandan, and Zairan soldiers forced the RPF to retreat. A renewed invasion was attempted in late 1991, but also had limited success.

The invasion increased ethnic tension throughout the region, including in neighbouring Burundi where similar tensions existed. Peace talks between the RPF and the Rwandese government resulted in the Arusha accords, including political participation of the RPF in Rwanda. Despite the agreement, ethnic tensions still flared dangerously.

On 6 April 1994, a plane carrying both the Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down by a surface-to-air missile as it approached Kigali airport. All on board were killed. Kagame's RPF was attacked immediately after the incident, and as soon as word came to him of the genocidal acts, he launched an invasion of Rwanda. His invasion ended the Rwandan Genocide 100 days after it had started. As of 2006, even the Kagame regime has not undertaken any investigation to find those behind the assassination. The deaths sparked the Rwandan Genocide. An estimated 800,000 - 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed. Kofi Annan described the downing of the plane as a "first-class foul-up". <ref>[1], The Daily Telegraph</ref>

Because French citizens died during the crash of the plane, an investigation was carried out by Jean-Louis Bruguière, a French judge, who concluded that the shooting of the plane was ordered by Kagame and that Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front was the only organization with the missiles that were used in the assassination. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> In November 2006 Jean-Louis Bruguière signed international indictments against nine of President Kagame's senior aides and accused Kagame of ordering the assassination of two African presidents, the then Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and his counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira, president of Burundi. Under French law, Kagame could not be indicted since, as a head-of-state, he has immunity from prosecution. However, Kagame would not have immunity if he was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> . This was corroborated by several sources including former intelligence RPF members, the most publicly known being Abdul Ruzibiza. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The Association des Avocats de la Defence has also released backing Jean-Louis Bruguière's allegations.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] The Second Congo War

Main article: Second Congo War

Kagame was part of the cabinet of President Pasteur Bizimungu which came to power in the aftermath of the genocide. Kagame was made Vice President of Rwanda and Defense Minister. Bizimungu was also a member of the RPF, and as its military leader, Kagame was viewed as the power behind the throne, and eventually became President when Bizimungu was deposed in March 2000.

In 1998, Rwanda got heavily involved in the Second Congo War, supporting a well-armed rebel group in Congo, the Congolese Rally for Democracy. Together with Uganda, Rwandan forces invaded the mineral-rich north and east of Democratic Republic of Congo, citing Congolese anti-Tutsi policies and historical Rwandan heritage in the area. The government of Congo soon found itself supported by several other African nations, and mounted a counter attack.

An April 2001 United Nations report alleged "mass scale looting" of Congolese mineral resources. The report claimed that senior members of the Rwandan government had made hundreds of millions of dollars from illegal mineral trading, and that:

Presidents Kagame and [Uganda's President] Museveni are on the verge of becoming the godfathers of the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A June 2001 Amnesty International report implicated Rwandan and Rwandan-backed forces (amongst others) in the deliberate killing of thousands of Congolese civilians.

An un-named Congolese Church leader was quoted in the report as saying:

The genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994 is something horrible, but why should every Hutu feel guilty and why take revenge on us, the Congolese? Rwanda has succeeded in making the West guilty, so they send money and guns. Now, Rwanda can chase the militia, exploit the richness of our country, and us ? We will just be sacrificed, it will be too late for us

Although the Rwandan and Ugandan governments claim to have withdrawn their forces from Congo, there are consistent reports of ongoing Rwandan involvement. Rwandan and Ugandan-backed militia groups continue to commit grave human rights abuses. The conflict has so far claimed approximately 3.8 million lives.

Critics allege that the Rwandan occupation of the Eastern Congo has been motivated chiefly by a desire to exploit Congolese mineral resources. Paul Kagame has, in turn, claimed that these criticisms are based on Hutu-extremist propaganda, and that Rwanda's sole reason for occupying the Congo has been to defeat the remnants of the Hutu-extremist militia who fled there from Rwanda after the 1994 genocide.

A 2002 United Nations report elaborated on the allegations of illegal profiteering by Rwandan and Ugandan forces in Congo:

The claims of Rwanda concerning its security have justified the continuing presence of its armed forces, whose real long-term purpose is, to use the term employed by the Congo Desk of the Rwandan Patriotic Army, to "secure property". Rwanda's leaders have succeeded in persuading the international community that their military presence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo protects the country against hostile groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who, they claim, are actively mounting an invasion against them.

The Panel has extensive evidence to the contrary. For example, the Panel is in possession of a letter, dated 26 May 2000, from Jean-Pierre Ondekane, First Vice-President and Chief of the Military High Command for [the Rwandan-backed rebel group] RCD-Goma, urging all army units to maintain good relations "with our Interahamwe and Mayi-Mayi brothers", and further, "if necessary to let them exploit the sub-soil for their survival"...

A 30-year-old Interahamwe combatant living in the area of Bukavu described the situation in a taped interview with a United Nations officer in early 2002:

We haven't fought much with the RPA in the last two years. We think they are tired of this war, like we are. In any case, they aren't here in the Congo to chase us, like they pretend. I have seen the gold and coltan mining they do here, we see how they rob the population. These are the reasons for their being here. The RPA come and shoot in the air and raid the villagers' houses but they don't attack us any more.

[edit] President Kagame

Paul Kagame became President of Rwanda in March 2000, after Bizimungu was deposed. Three and a half years later, on August 25, 2003, he won a landslide victory in the first national elections since his government took power in 1994, amid reports by EU observers of voting irregularities and harassment of opposition parties. In March of that year, he had been awarded the Young Presidents Organization's Global Leadership Award for his role in leading and rebuilding Rwanda.

Kagame tends to downgrade the importance of his ethnic background (he is a Tutsi), portraying himself as simply a Rwandan. Sceptics point to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the current Rwandan government are, like Kagame, Tutsis raised in Uganda.

The human rights organisation Freedom House lists Rwanda as "not free", noting that, despite limited democratic reforms, Rwandans do not have the power to change their government. The 2004 "Reporters Sans Frontieres" Press Freedom index rated Rwanda 113th out of 167 countries. Their 2005 report concluded that:

Despite its claims to support freedom of the press, the Kagame government continues to behave like a predator. Ten years after the genocide of the Tutsis, in which "hate media" played such a grim role, Rwanda is still a country where press freedom does not exist.

Kagame is highly critical of the United Nations and its role in the 1994 genocide. In March 2004, his public criticism of France for its role in the genocide and its lack of preventative actions caused a diplomatic row. Critics have accused Kagame of exploiting Western guilt over the genocide to deflect public criticism of corruption and human rights abuse by his government.

Preceded by:
Augustin Bizimana
Minister of Defence (Rwanda)
July 19 1994March 23 2000
Succeeded by:
Emmanuel Habyarimana
Preceded by:
Vice-President of Rwanda
July 19 1994March 23 2000
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Pasteur Bizimungu
President of Rwanda
March 24 2000 – present
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