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Your questions to President Kagame

Charlotte Attwood | 14:31 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

In a special edition of Africa Have Your Say, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame will be answering your questions live on air, on Tuesday 22 March at 1600 GMT.



Paul Kagame has been in control of Rwanda since his rebel army ended the genocide in 1994.

To his admirers he is an economic visionary but his critics say he has put development before democracy and political freedom.

Who do you agree with? What are his views on the air strikes on Libya and the civil unrest in Ivory Coast? What are your questions for President Kagame?

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on Tuesday 22 March at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published.


  • Comment number 1.

    As you share a border with Uganda and Burindi, what do you think of their presence in Somalia? Most Somalis are concerned about their indiscriminate shelling, destruction and killing of civilians. Do you think it is better for the Somalia Hawiye to reconcile and make peace amongst themsleves, rather than the AMISOM siding with one side and slaughtering civilians?

  • Comment number 2.

    Mr Kagame, you are known to hold the view that Rwanda cannot afford political freedoms and basic civil and political rights given its tragic history. You have locked up your political opponents, and there are credible accounts of political assassinations of those who have expressed the mildest criticisms of you. Do you really believe that economic development can only be achieved at the expense of these freedoms? What's your evidence, if so? And what would you say about countries like Germany and indeed, Japan, who have both had a tragic history, but emerged to become global economic giants without sacrificing such rights? Or could it be that you are just another of our old-style tyrants using economic development as an excuse to further your selfish aims?

  • Comment number 3.

    I cant agree more with those who think he has put development before democracy and political freedom, he can tout all his post Genocide achievements and economic reforms but until he lets Rwandans exercise their fundermental rights or freedoms, his so called success stories wont count. Kagame has technically been in power since 1994, and today, Rwandans are kind of gagged, they cant freely express themselves, for those who dare to speak up they are dealt with accordingly, many polititians including his former colleagues, and officers in the army have since fled the country just because they tried to question his policies.His government fully controls not only the government media that broadcast and prints or publishes government propaganda, but also all censors and harrasses other independent media and journalists, dozens and dozens of journalists have fled his repressive tendencies, and there's nothing like seperation of powers in Rwanda (on paper yes, but in reality the executive controls everything.

    What's Kagame's views on what's been going on in the Arab world in general (Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Libya), and Ivory Coast. Does he think Rwandans are happy and contented with all the democratic freedoms and what there government is doing for them or like in these countries, Rwandans cant risk their own lives to speak out against the government, do Rwandans have a right to peacefully protest? Why is that the only protests the governments allow are only pro-Kagame government? And finally, can he unequivocally reaffirm his commitment or intentions to stand down when his current term lapses in 2017?

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Mr.president,Do you regret after having promoted women representation in your government up to 30%?

  • Comment number 6.

    Mr. President, you have done many great things for Rwanda and its people, and you are to be congratulated. Why are you so frightened of political opposition? Rwanda will never grow as a country and reach its full potential as long as you prevent the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda from registering, and you keep people like Bernard Ntaganda and Victoire Ingabire imprisoned for no genuine reason.

    The idea that Frank Habineza espouses any ideology that is detrimental to Rwanda's people is patently absurd. His programme is very much mainstream Green Party, not unlike those pursued by like-minded people in the U.S., Europe, Australia and elsewhere.

    I invite every listener to visit the Free Bernard Ntaganda facebook page, and continue to press your government to urge President Kagame to be a true democrat, not merely someone who plays one to rub elbows with the Tony Blairs and Bill Clintons of the world. Rwanda is a glorious country of beautiful people and places and intelligent people who yearn to breathe free air. Don't let its past destroy its future.

    Tom Rizzo

  • Comment number 7.

    Dear BBC African have your say;

    I love listening to your programes and especially the edition of Paul Kagame. Please, I would love if you can contact me that time so that, I can send in my questions especially regarding African style of leadership and groupings.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 8.

    The UN Mapping report released in October last year, accuse your forces of systematically killing tens of thousands of Hutu civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Do you think these victims deserve justice? If so, what steps do you propose?

  • Comment number 9.

    Ingabire Victoire, a presidential hopeful and leader of the FDU Inkingi party was arrested in March 2010 over her claims that your rebel front had committed atrocities against Hutu civilians. How does this fit with your commitment to democracy?

  • Comment number 10.

    The Economist has written that, "Kagame allows less political space and freedom of the press in Rwanda than Robert Mugabe." You are listed among the top five predators of the press by Reporters Without Borders. Do you believe that press freedom is an important prerequisite for the democratic future of Rwanda?

  • Comment number 11.

    In then Senator Barack Obama's 2006 Obama Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, he wrote:

    “(6) Despite the conclusion of a peace agreement and subsequent withdrawal of foreign forces in 2003, both the real and perceived presence of armed groups hostile to the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi continue to serve as a major source of regional instability and an apparent pretext for continued interference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by its neighbors [Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi].”

    Could you speak to your "apparent pretext for continued interference" in Congo?

  • Comment number 12.

    Dear Mr Kagame,

    There is something I would like to understand. How do you want to manage the politico-cultural transformation that is necessary to move away from the old African elite (including the Habyarimana/Mobutu etc) regimes' habit to take the state as a hostage to their personal advantage? Does your nation follow you on this path?

    Do you think that the fact that you move away from the francophone political culture of presidentialism helps to open up a path to a more egalitarian/democratic way of thinking? In other words, would the Anglo Saxon Westminster way of thinking better fit to the transformation that you pursue than the quasi monarchist French way of organising a policy does?

    Is there a genuine Rwandan way to achieve the formation of a modern democracy or are Rwandan ideas of modernity and democracy very different from what Europeans think?

    Whatever your answer, thank you for what you have achieved so far.

  • Comment number 13.

    Why would BBC ask Kagame about Libya? He should be the next logical target of a coalition force. The economic development people talk so much about is only seen in the capital Kigali where party elites reside, and where illegal trade of Congo's minerals is done in broad day light. I have not seen any development in my small town, or any other place in Western Rwanda. Rwandan people are suffering so much under him and his political party. The only smart thing he has achieved is to successfully lie to the West about happenings in Rwanda.

  • Comment number 14.

    Mr. President,
    Since the Rwandan Patriotic Front took power in 1994, none ever chellenged your regime and not be killed, thrown in prison or goes to exile. When are you going to tolerate any opposing view? Can you please release Victoire Ingabire and other political prisoners who are in 1930 Kigali Maximum prison for simply exercising their basic rights which your regime claims to respect?
    I strongly believe that Rwandan leaders need to get rid of demonizing the regime's opponent if we need to build a better future Rwanda. We are building on the sand like Gadhafi if the economic development becomes an execuse for oppression. Thanks

  • Comment number 15.

    Mr. President, what are you going to do if the ongoing French anti-terror judge Marc Trevidic investigation into the killing the former Rwandan president of Rwanda, [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]Juvenal Habyarimana holds you and RPF responsible for shooting down president's plane?

  • Comment number 16.

    Burundi, my homeland Country,experienced ethnic violence for decades, from 1965, the conflict left Families displaced internally and externally.With ethnic quotas embedded in the Burundian constitution, a powersharing between Hutu and Tutsi, some said that this is a democratic solution to the decades of conflict, but I feel that this has created more tension and intensified conflict.I'd choose Rwanda's political model where every Citizen is seen as Rwandan, I feel that this helps greatly move the Country forward, particularly on unity and reconciliation.When every Family is able to feed their children, send them to school, there is nothing more democratic that this path.

  • Comment number 17.

    I am doing my MLitt dissertation on Rwanda as a 'developmental state' I would like to ask President Kagame if this is the direction he sees the country going in, how he hopes to achieve this, and what does he think makes Rwanda so different to other African states?


  • Comment number 18.

    First of all I would like to thank you for taking time off from your busy schedule to share with us your insight in current african affaires.
    I'm a Rwandan-American. I visit Rwanda 3 times a year. Mr. President I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what went wrong between you and the gang of 4 (Kayumba, Karegeya, Rudasingwa, Gahima). How did you become enemies brothers? Studying your track record from NRA to RPF from Kampala to Kigali until 2005 things didn't look so bad. You both worked together to reclaim your homeland your both are well connected with various foreign Intelligence services, you hold your old address books. The poor Rwandans don't understand that. This conflict between brothers has been kept as a family secret. You have advantage on the other brothers. You have provided relative peace and security, the Banyarwanda love you for that and are thankful. Keep reaching out to the poor. You remember during the bush struggle they are the ones who provide intelligence, food and hide out. To the gang of 4. Take your case straight to the Banyarwanda. They are the ones who are capable of giving the grade you deserve. They are the headmaster. The wazungu come and go. Rwanda has been, is and will always be for us by us. Thank you. Mwalimu Marcel , South Cali, USA. 310-310-1037

  • Comment number 19.

    Mr. President, I listened to one of your interview on aljazerra stating that you are fighting corruption and that some of your former allies flee from Rwanda because they were involved in corrupt practices. Have you ever declared your assets since becoming President of Rwanda? Secondly, how true is it that you are supressing your political opponents. If your term ends, will you give up power peaceful to be an elderstateman or will you change the constitution to grant you another term?

  • Comment number 20.

    In 2010, Reporters Without Borders ranked Rwanda in 169th place out of 178 for freedom of the press, and commented "Rwanda [and others] have joined Burma and North Korea in the group of the world’s most repressive countries towards journalists."

    Do you and your government value a free and open media? Why do you think the Reporters Without Borders review of press freedoms in Rwanda was so damning?

    Yours Sincerely,

    source: https://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2010,1034.html

  • Comment number 21.

    Dear Presisident Kagame, when do you hope to handover power to the majority Hutu in Rawanda?

  • Comment number 22.

    H.E. President Kagame:
    Have you considered who can be a successor to all of the splendid work that you've done as President?

  • Comment number 23.

    President Kagame has contributed to the development of Rwanda, both in terms of economic conditions and security in general. But I have one big question for him: How can you fight corruption effectively when there are claims that you are also corrupt? Can you explain how you got those aeroplanes? Why are you oppressing those who do not agree with you politically? You tried to kill Gen.Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa, others have been killed like Rwisereka, you have arrested Ingabire, Ntaganda, Mushayidi? Why, Why, Why???? Gatare

  • Comment number 24.

    Are you concern by the waves of popular dissent going on in North Africa knowing that some of these regimes promoted development at the expense of human rights and freedom? When are you going to relinquish power and establish a democratic environment like that which was done by the former Ghanian Jerry Rawlings? You are doing a great job with Rwanda and it's befitting that you leave in peace .

  • Comment number 25.

    Well it is good to become a leader, but not be greedy in power. Like other leaders are posing.This happens in the Arab countries here in Africa. taking Libya,Egypt,Algeria and Tunisia.They believe deing in power.Please Pual Kagame, a Revolutionary leader doesn't mean to stay longer in power like u.Do you think you are the best among all? [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 26.

    Mr President, first I thank you for being one of the few Heads of State who frequently addresses journalists, the example being your monthly press conferences back in Rwanda. You are also known as a leader who spends much of his time with the ordinary people at the grassroots, taking their questions and immediately resolving them. You have transformed Rwanda over the past 17 years to a level that not even the most optimistic ones who have imagined: a reconciled society, dispensation of justice involving over a million genocide suspects through the Gacaca courts, a rapid economic growth, freed basic education, turning Rwanda into a regional ICT hub, well paved roads and clean streets, your uncompromising stance against corruption and enforcement of high disciplinary standards in Rwandan army -- these are a whole range of achievements that you can hardly find anywhere in Africa.

    My question is what drives you to do all these things, which you have actually promised to continue doing? What do you think has set you aside as a distinguished African leader and what is your message to Africans and the young generation all over the world?

    Second, some people have argued that your strict disciplinarian tendency is actually your greatest threat (weakness) since it has earned you a couple of enemies, including some former senior army officers. What is your take on that, and does it bother you?

    God Bless and I want to assure you that the African youth stands with you, because we know, you have good intentions for us.

  • Comment number 27.

    Mr president, what can you say on what is being said about students suicide due to the cut on students support in your country and yet we are ware that your country has achieved amazing economic progress to an extent that you can afford 100 million worth presidential planes?

    Mr president Mrs Victoire Ingabire has now been in prison for 155 days, does this mean that your courts have failed to find tangible evidence of her crimes to procecute her?

  • Comment number 28.

    Thank you for the program and to Thank you to President Kagame for answering questions. My point is that I am a strong supporter of president Kagame for his clear and visionary leadership particulary when it comes to Rwanda's development; building a society based on rule of law and the good message to all Rwandans that they must work hard smarter and stay the course of becoming trully independent by not depending foreign aid. But does he aggree with me that the media in particular that funded by the outsiders and some NGOs are interested in seing Rwanda as basket case and not an emerging Country because this is what keeps them in Business? and what can He do or what is his government's plan to make these organisations change their attitude towards Rwanda. Many Thanks

  • Comment number 29.

    It's completely unacceptable to allow a such wanted man like Paul Kagame who is killing and jailing his own people to come to UK and BBC! The UK should follow other European countries models as they don't welcome there! He is a wanted man as French and Spanish authorities have issued international arrest wanty against this man! The BBC and UK should appreciate that the world is watching as they should be held accountable of Kagame's atrocities such as genuine opposition leaders like Ingabire and many more! It will not take long to see what's is happening in northern Africa happening in Rwanda if the UK continue to remain iddle and build jails for opposition leaders! Possibly because there is no oil there!

  • Comment number 30.

    I think want President Kagame is doing in Rwanda is a miracle. i rather have a health centres stocked with drugs and have enough doctors and nurses, well constructed school with enough teachers books, desks, tarmacked roads, drinking water than holding sham elections every other year as is done in the rest of Africa. He is the man that put his people first before his personal interests. Great lakes leaders should learn from him. His country is almost corrupt free, united, progressing. we people from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are admiring the miracle that is talking place in Rwanda.

  • Comment number 31.

    President Kagame, we hail as one of the new breed African leaders. With the events in Libya, following Egypt and other revolts in the Arab World, do you think we are seeing the end of an era to "Great Leaders of Africa"?What would be your suggestion of what African leaders should be like today?What is your reaction to the international action in Libya?Was it called for?Lastly are you stepping down after your latest term in office?

    Thank you very much

  • Comment number 32.

    Mr President,
    From your expererience, can you please tell me , how can you help your neigbour, the DRCongo, to end the ongoing sexual violence to women and girls in the East of Congo?

  • Comment number 33.

    Mr President, you may be the first African president to agree to answer questions. What UA organisation do for African people? There were so many meeting in Addis ababa so far there's no single result!

  • Comment number 34.

    My question would be - Did the West do enough to stop the genocide in 1994? What more could they have done?

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm interested to hear Mr Kagame's thoughts on - what is the role of donors in Africa's development? How and where should donors focus their attentions, and why? How, if at all, does Rwanda's relationship with international donors differ from other African countries?

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 36.

    I would like to ask about rumours on State Coup plots. These rumours are regularly occuring in newsparers. Are these rumours true? Is the Government afraid against Kayumba and Karegeye?

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 37.

    Mine is not a question, it is an appreciation and encouragement. President Paul Kagame has done so much for his country Rwanda and Africa in general. A man of dignity, a hero. Keep doing great things Mr. President, don't be discaraged by negativists. God bless you, God bless your family, God bless Rwanda, God bless Africa.

  • Comment number 38.

    To his admirers he is an economic visionary but his critics say he has put development before democracy and political freedom.

    Who do you agree with?

    For me, the most important thing is peace. We have peace. With peace, we can go to work and get salaries, built houses, take our children to schools, see them grow, develop ourselves, same for businessmen, ... And Yes, President Kagame is one of the channels God is using to give us peace and development. I want to thank him because he is patriotic, he loves his people, his nation and that is why he does his best to bring all good. I thank God for him and ask God to continue protect him.

  • Comment number 39.

    Mr President, our Hero go ahead I like you and I shall do my best to support you.
    Thank you for your heroism. God bless you.

  • Comment number 40.

    Mr President, you claim to have brought peace and economic growth to Rwanda post the genocide. How do you then justify the increasing number of Rwandans leaving the country to seek asylum in other countries? How do you justify peace and freedom? Will Victoire Ingabire continue to be jailed simply for expressing different views from yourself? People in Rwanda are so afraid of voicing their opinions.
    Lastly, how are you planning to decrease the gap between the rich and poor people in your country, it seems to widen daily. Unemployment is rising and people in villages are increasingly getting poorer.

  • Comment number 41.

    The Rwandan citizens have elected you for the second mandate would you tell us your term for this mandate?

  • Comment number 42.

    Mr President:

    Do you feel that your Government is doing enough to protect Rwanda against some ill-intended Rwandans and foreigners who are trying to push our nation backward?

  • Comment number 43.

    As a Kenyan who has lived in Rwanda for two and a half years, I daresay that Paul Kagame is easily the best President in Africa right now. My question is simply how can we young East Africans help propel the region to greater heights? I won't be surprised if you ignore my comment.

  • Comment number 44.

    FARG (Rwandan Government Assistance Fund for Survivors) is a vital source of support to genocide survivors - in particular for young survivors who otherwise would not be able to access university. Though FARG only was able to support 1,500 young survivors with university scholarships this year, from the 10,800 applicants. Does the Government of Rwanda support a call fro the international community to do more to support FARG to enable them to extend access to university for more young survivors?

  • Comment number 45.

    I would like to say thanks for all the hard work that you have done in trying to make Rwanda stable this includes many things that you are criticised for. I visited Rwanda in 2009 and am going back in 2012.
    Yes democracy is great but it does not always work in all places all at all times. keep up the good work

  • Comment number 46.

    We Rwandans love you Mr president. They should come and see all that has been accomplished since the end of the genocide. In the words of Richard Grant:
    "..In Kigali, the capital city, skyscrapers are rising, and the streets are swept clean every morning. There is a national health system, 19 out of 20 children are now in school, and rural Rwanda, while still in poverty, has better internet service than rural Britain.."
    We are behind you Mr. President!

  • Comment number 47.

    Kagame the breed of leaders Africa needs most of the African leaders are COL Gadafis's partners in crime, they actually would have equally bombed innocent citizens, The AU just wants to use delay tactice by saying let Africa solve it's problem and instituting a toothless committee,so as COL Gadafi takes gripe of power in Libya, Congradulations western powers, for the support of Libyan people. let the wave of democracy sweep Africa

  • Comment number 48.

    To build a country up to normality after a terrible time, as Rwanda experienced, there is a need to focus on certain things and leave other things for a later time. But to build a country into a great country, there must be all the freedoms for all the people. There comes a time when you are no longer re-building, and must focus on the freedom of the people who make a country great. An extreme example of Zimbabwe shows what happens to a (once) productive country when the people have no freedom.

  • Comment number 49.

    As a leader is your duty to servie and protect all your people, but is there a reason to stop your people from expressing themselves when they disagree with you?

  • Comment number 50.

    It is not easy for everyone to build the country, after a fatal tragedy, like Kagame did. african leaders should learn lots of things to him.

  • Comment number 51.

    Across Africa, Rwanda has taken initiatives to increase the participation and representation of women in governance. this is an encouragement for young Rwanda girls.

  • Comment number 52.


    Girinka program (One cow per poor Family) was inspired by the Rwandan culture and initiated by His Excellency the President of the Republic in 2006. The cabinet meeting of 12/04/2006 approved the program as one of the 2020 vision, EDPRS and IDP implementation measures. This program aims at enabling every poor household to own and manage an improved dairy cow which would help the family to better their livelihood through increased milk and meat production and to improve soil fertility of their land for their crops using the available manure. This will not only improve the nutrition, but also increase the earnings of beneficiaries from milk, milk products, meat and sale of manure.

  • Comment number 53.

    Rwanda Health: "Health Insurance"

    The objective of Mutuelle de Sante is to provide quality health-care to orphans and other vulnerable children (OVCs) and families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, through the coverage of medical health insurance. By so doing, this project reinforces the health system and contributes to national efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases.

  • Comment number 54.

    Dear Colleagues,
    The continued bickering in Africa over petty issues has led to economic and development stagnation. I am so annoyed with some rogue guys commenting on this space against what Kageme has done for the Rwandese people. If Kamege is ranked among Africa leaders with even some parts of Asia, He will emerge one of the best leaders in the 21st century. US and Europe has ruined Africa in the name of democracy & such coined words. Why hasn't US and Europe stopped war in Somalia, Guinea, Ivory coast, DRC & many others. These guys r thieves in the name of superpowers. Kagame forever

  • Comment number 55.

    Mr. President, it has been noted that there is some tension between you and President Museveni of Uganda, no doubt to do with their aggressive foreign policy with regards to the LRA and Somalia, however your states seem to be in similar positions: both have recently emerged from violent political turmoil with progress oriented leaders who seek a better future not only for themselves but for Africa as a whole. On this note, Museveni and others recently criticized Operation Odyssey Dawn and Western intervention in Libya and in African politics in general. Do you agree with these criticisms or not? If so do you think that the African Union should take over proceedings in Libya as originally planned?

  • Comment number 56.

    It is sad to see that the media is still being used to support one side or the other. In a time where everybody emphasizes the importance of the freedom of speech, we have a major source of media such as BBC being everything but neutral. Since the beginning of this interview, it is clear that the speaker had already chosen his side. I am not trying to defend Mr. President Kagame or anything like that, I am just stating the obvious. In order to guarantee a large audience and large profits by the same occasion, these medias do anything in their power to create a buzz even if it goes against the principle of neutrality in the media. I believe that this interview could have been much more helpful and productive if it had been conducted with a more neutral perspective.

  • Comment number 57.

    I just Admire, President Kagame for the work he has done in Rwanda. I was in Rwanda in 2007 and up to Rwengeri Diocese, Rwanda was new all together and imagine now could even be far better. He is the President of the new Africa. If all other leaders would be objective, focust, developmental in their thinking like H.E. Kagame. Then we would have seen great changes in Africa.

  • Comment number 58.

    How long can Rwanda and other African developing nation sustain their economies without foreign investors and foreign AID? How favorable is the investment environment on African Continent with what is happening in Libya and other rich oil producing countries of Africa and the Arab?

  • Comment number 59.

    By unprofessionally conducting this interview, jakana denied us listeners the opportunity to have an engaging and exciting interview as expected. Kagame is one of the best world leaders to listen to becase he does not mince words, he shoots straight and speaks articulately. Jakana killed all this


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