Paul Kagame


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(b. Ruhango, Rwanda, Oct. 1957)

Rwandan; President 2000–  Kagame and his parents fled from Rwanda to Uganda in 1960 as Hutu violence against Tutsis erupted in the years before the country's independence from Belgium. Kagame attended university in Kampala and fought, together with Yoweri Museveni, against the Ugandan government of Milton Obote, overthrowing Obote in 1986. Kagame became Museveni's Chief of Staff and, together with three other expatriate Rwandans in the Ugandan army, formed the Tutsi-led Rwanda Patriotic Front (FPR), plotting an invasion of Rwanda. In 1990, while Kagame was attending Fort Leavenworth General Staff College in Kansas, USA, the FPR invasion of Rwanda took place. It was unsuccessful, and the other leaders were killed, leaving Kagame in control. Rwanda's ruling Hutus blamed Tutsis when Juvenal Habyarimana, the Rwandan President, died after his plane was shot down over Kagali in 1994. This led to a campaign of genocide within Rwanda, with Hutus murdering Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Kagame and his FPR fought successfully against the Hutus, and Kagame became Rwandan Vice-President and minister of defence in the 1994 government of National Unity. As the conquered Hutus had fled to Zaire (which became the Democratic Republic of Congo in May 1997) Kagame sent Rwandan troops after them. These troops also took part in Zaire's civil war. Kagame was elected President of Rwanda's transitional government by the country's National Assembly in 2000. In 2002 he stopped supporting rebels in the Congo. Kagame, standing as a Rwandan rather than a Tutsi, was elected President in 2003. He faced the difficult task of bringing unity and stability to a country devastated by years of ethnic violence. Rwanda broke off diplomatic relations with France in 2006 after a French judge had called for Kagame to be tried following allegations of complicity in the 1994 plane crash. In 2008 the Rwandan government published a report on the genocide, in which it was alleged that French troops trained Hutu forces and that French ministers were implicitly involved. The report further strained relations with France, and Kagame has been moving Rwanda away from the Francophone group of countries and has applied for membership of the Commonwealth.

Subjects: African Studies — Politics.

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