In an exclusive interview with the French publication Jeune Afrique on September 19, 2023, Rwandan President Paul Kagame opened up about his future political ambitions and offered his perspective on Western political norms. The interview was conducted by François Soudan, the Editor-in-Chief of Jeune Afrique.
President Kagame confirmed his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections, after having been re-elected as the head of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) with an overwhelming 99.8% of the vote in April 2023. When questioned about the seemingly inevitable conclusion that he would be the FPR’s candidate, Kagame said, “It is obvious to the public eye. I am happy with the trust that Rwandans place in me. I will always serve them as long as I can. Yes, I am indeed a candidate.”
The conversation took a critical turn when Kagame was asked about his long tenure in power, spanning over two decades, and whether this was at odds with Western norms of governance. In a candid response, the Rwandan leader dismissed the concerns. “Sorry for the West, but what these countries think is not our problem,” he said. Kagame questioned the integrity of Western principles, asking rhetorically, “What is democracy? The West dictating to others what they should do? But if they violate their principles, how can we listen to them?”
President Kagame emphasized that each nation should have the independence to organize itself as it sees fit. He criticized the Western tendency to impose its form of democracy on other nations, calling it “a violation of democracy itself.”