Paul Kagame is the 6th and current President of Rwanda, having taken office in 2000 when his predecessor, Pasteur Bizimungu, was dismissed and arrested.
Paul Kagame, a brutal dictator with a widely-known different color of the developmental strides. Since 2000 when he took over power as President, Kagame, a Tutsi from Southern Rwanda, has held a Janus face to a world peeping into the dangerously hilly but beautiful country of Rwanda.
Kagame started as commander of the Rwanda Patriotic Front, an Uganda-based rebel force that was the core of the blood spillage in the infamous Rwandan genocide that held from April 7 and July 15, 1994, where Hutu extremists killed in cold blood about one million people within a hundred days.
Even when he served as Vice President and Minister of Defence between 1994 and 2000, Kagame was known to be the de facto president of Rwanda and a strongman, dreaded for his brutal and uncompromising attitude to the opposition. He is held high in the assassination of exiled Rwandan political opponents.
Kagame has since held forte for 20 years as President of Rwanda. As he does, a world which, like a famished hyena, hungrily proclaims “democracy,” has been looking the other way as the baboon is daily bathed with blood in Kigali. In 2017 when he sought re-election, Kagame went down in the Guinness Book of Record as about the first president in the world who would be elected by his people with 99% votes.
Not only is he known to be, development-wise, running one of the most impressive governments in Africa, human rights-wise, he is also one of the most repressive African rulers. He rules Rwanda with iron fist like the Iron Curtains and is infamously known as sitting on a river of blood. Rwanda is perceived to be one huge field where killings, human rights violations, and silencing of dissenting voices are perpetrated by the government as effortlessly as you spread mayonnaise on your bread.
In terms of development, Kagame ranks high on the continent and even beyond. He has prioritized the development of Rwanda and lifted it up as a middle-income country of note. Rwanda is high on key indicators of growth and her fare in the areas of annual growth, education, health and economy is impressive. This writer has visited and driven through the roads of Rwanda, even outside Kigali and can testify that Kagame would make any African visitor to this Central African country proud of their heritage.
Indeed, the Rwandan economy has tremendously appreciated under Kagame, with a per-capita gross domestic product of $1,592. This was a leap from $567 as at 2000 when he took over. The country’s annual growth averaged 8% between the periods of 2004 to 2010, with a refreshing economic policy that centers on liberalization, privatization of state-owned companies and transformation of Rwanda from an agricultural to knowledge-based economy.
Only recently, Kagame entered into a partnership with some cell phone manufacturers for the production of the same in Rwanda. His target is to pattern the Rwandan economy after Singapore. For doing these, he has been praised by global leaders like Bill Clinton and Starbucks chairman, Howard Schultz for the transformation of Rwanda.
He is however held with awe and disdain by the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), alleged to be profiting his Rwanda from illegal pilfering of DRC’s mineral resources, the latter being a shouting distance from Rwanda and separated by River Ruzizi, a river of about 117 kilometres and which flows from Lake Kivu in DRC to Lake Tanganyika, also in Central Africa.
However, as said earlier, Rwanda holds prominent life membership of countries with human rights ignominy, with earned medallion festooned with blood.
As Kagame paddles his lanky frame across the globe with thumbs-up for developing war-torn Rwanda, the medallion of blood swivels menacingly on his neck, telling the whole wide world that Kagame’s developmental strides were achieved at the cost of rivers of blood of Rwandese.
Excerpt from CNN Report and the Bloody Road To Rwanda, By Festus Adedayo(an Ibadan-based journalist)