‘We have a problem’: President Kagame on CNN

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Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, has been a darling of the West ever since he led his country out of the terrible 1994 genocide that left up to one million people dead.

After the genocide, Kagame brought economic and social progress to Rwanda by effectively using the foreign aid flowing in from the international community. These funds make up nearly half of the country’s budget.

But now, the country’s economic lifeline is in jeopardy since the United Nations accused Rwanda of backing rebels in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. The U.N. says the country has helped to create and militarily support the “M23” rebel group that wants to overthrow the democratically-elected government of President Joseph Kabila.

The White House says that President Obama called Kagame to emphasize “the importance of permanently ending all support to armed groups in the DRC.” Kagame denies backing the M23 rebels.

“It’s a big ‘no’ on the issue of saying that I am accepting this kind of responsibility,” Kagame told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview Friday. “The solution is for us to come together as two countries, as a region and be forward looking and find solutions. Rwanda is very active in this and we want a positive solution out of that.”

Despite Kagame’s denial, some of its major donors are already withholding money and financing for projects. As a result, the country’s finance minister has lowered the projected economic growth for 2013.

“I think we already have a problem,” Kagame said – acknowledging the situation in DRC is costing his country, regardless of whether or not the accusations are true.

“It has led to a problem where there is this discomfort we found ourselves in, that affects the progress of my country and also, of course, creates other problems within the region,” he said.

In addition to these accusations, Kagame finds himself increasingly criticized for a growing authoritarian streak at home.

However, Kagame does not appear worried about his legacy being tarnished – pointing to many of his achievements: “We have registered economic growth 8% year in, year out for almost last ten years. We have seen women empowered like nowhere else,” he said. “I don’t know what is being talked about.”

Will Kagame step down in 2017?

Africa has been plagued by leaders who refuse to hand over the reins of power.

The Rwandan constitution says Kagame must step down in 2017. By that time he will have served as president for 17 years.

“Don’t worry about that,” Kagame told Amanpour when asked if he would hand over power by that time. “We have the constitution in place. We have always tried to do our best to satisfy the needs of our people and expectations of our people.”

Amanpour asked if that meant “yes,” he would step down.

He replied, “No. It is a broad answer to say you don’t need to worry about anything.”

By Samuel Burke, Claire Calzonetti & Juliet Fuisz, CNN

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Umwidishyi ararushye pee ubanza uruhu rumaze kumukana byiza kandi kyane! Yego dufite ibibazo byawe mwidishyi! Yego tanga Imihoho oya imihoro ahubwo amahoro mwidishyi!
    Ubwira abana kwicabase bakabica, ejo barakwica shahu mwidishyi! Uti hakwiye ubwunvikane deplomatik budafite amacenga kandiniyo akuranga mwidishyi ejo uruhu ruragukana ushake abakanuzi ubabure ukanure amasonkukombona wayazoye ugiye nabi mwidishyi!

  2. Point taken, Mr Strongman sir, we do have problem.
    As long as you will keep quibbling about the respect of the presidential institution you hijacked with the very blessing of CNN’s tune callers, we shall stay misinformed that our 8% annual growth is your enlightened making. But it is not. It ‘s just an economic life drip the West feeds us and even so, they omit to say that it doesn’t tally up to the real percentage of growth that half a budget provided by external imput should produce. They probably expect us to be wise enough to leave them manage the assessment side of their narrative.
    But the real problem is them making it their business to worry about who rule us in the first place.

    They maneuvered to put you into position without any care to the million casualties it took. Everybody knows who is rumored to be groomed to succeed you. However, if I were Donald Kaberuka, I would not trust you. He should see how convenient sending him away has been for you: he both helped you with ADB funding power and forcibly looked the other way when you were grabbing public assets and pilfering around. It’s not as if you needed a reason to physically eliminate any potential competitor though. His managerial competence is crime enough just as criminal as it has been to form independent political parties. So, our problem is a compounded one. You have a claim, America think they have a claim, neo monarhists dream Kigeri has a claim… who cares about “we the people” ?

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