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Paul Kagame

Rwanda is an African economic success story, but as President Paul Kagame stands for re-election he's accused of crushing the opposition. Is he the country's saviour or a dictator?

On Monday Rwanda goes to the polls, amid claims that the Hutu opposition has been brutally quashed, and free speech stifled by President Paul Kagame and the majority Tutsi government. The man who has led this tiny landlocked state since the genocide in 1994, taking it from basket case to emerging African success story, has been seen as a saviour, steering a traumatised country to democracy. He outlawed talk of ethnicity or division, and instilled discipline and ambition in colleagues and citizens alike. Aid money has been spent effectively: 19 out of 20 children are in school, the country has a health system. He changed the official language from French to English, banned plastic bags, and is pushing broadband internet connections. Sleeping little, Kagame reads voraciously about economic successes like Singapore or Korea, and has transformed Kigali into a clean and modern capital city. He uses a PR agency, has a facebook page, and occasionally tweets: but he's also accused of censorship and control of the media. Once praised by Clinton and Blair as a leader, Kagame is now under attack for banning political parties, and the unexplained and brutal murders of opposition politicians and journalists. Almost uniquely among Africa leaders, Kagame faces no personal allegations of corruption or nepotism. Kagame wants another term of office, and will get it. He denies any involvement in the assassinations, but says that the scale of the horror experience in Rwanda means the country needs a strong hand, and that the West doesn't understand. Nigel Thompson profiles the man behind Rwanda's extraordinary story.

Producer, Samantha Fenwick.

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14 minutes

Last on

Sun 8 Aug 2010 17:40

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