The votes have been cast, and Rwandans have officially elected their President.
Paul Kagame, who has been in power for 17 years, is once again leading the country – beating challengers Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party, and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent, to the Presidential seat.
This will be his third term in office, and after a fascinating route into power, CGTN Africa explore the man behind the movement:
Coming into power
Born in Rwanda in 1957, Kagame was the youngest in his family of four sisters and one brother. At an early age (in 1960) he was forced to flee with his family from Rwanda, and they became refugees in Uganda’s Nshungerezi refugee camp.
As his home country lay in political turmoil, Kagame successfully led the Tutsi rebel forces into Rwanda to end the 1994 genocide. After this movement, he was positioned as Defence Minister and Vice-President.
It was not until 2000 that Kagame was appointed as President by law-makers, and he successfully held onto his seat in 2003 when officially elected by the Rwandan people, and again in 2010 where he scored 90% of the votes.
Kagame is often praised for forcing a remarkable turnaround in Rwanda. He has achieved annual economic growth, which now amounts to around 7%. Rwanda is also viewed by many African countries as being incredibly safe, clean, and does not tolerate corruption.
However, despite these achievements, critics and rights groups, have accused him of ruling through fear.
Kagame’s image amongst foreign leaders was very positive until the late 2000s. He was credited with ending the genocide, bringing peace and security to Rwanda, and achieving development. Since 2010, the international community has increasingly criticised Kagame following a leaked United Nations report alleging Rwanda’s support for the rebel M23 movement in Congo.
In 2012, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and several other countries suspended programmes of budget support to Rwanda, with many redirecting their aid to project-based assistance.
Interesting Facts about Kagame’s Rwanda
- You can start a business in 48 hours in Rwanda
It takes 11.1 days on average in OECD high income countries.
- Rwanda is leading Africa’s digital revolution
The Smart Kigali initiative will create access to free wireless internet on public buses, in hospitals, taxi parks, commercial buildings and restaurants, while a partnership with Korea Telecom is creating access to 4G for 95% of the population.
- Rwanda has the world’s highest representation of women in parliament
64% of Rwanda’s members of parliament are women.
- A dramatic improvement in healthcare delivery and health outcomes has seen life expectancy in Rwanda rise by 10 years in the last decade
Over 90% of Rwandans have access to medical insurance.
- Rwanda is one of the few African countries on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Net primary school attendance is at over 91%.
- One million Rwandans overcame poverty between 2006 and 2011
Innovative homegrown development solutions have reduced poverty. For example, the Girinka programme, which provides every poor family in Rwanda with a cow, has reduced malnutrition, increased agricultural productivity and created small business opportunities.
- In 2007, Rwanda became the first country in the world to legislate an outright ban on plastic bags
It is estimated that the EU produces 3.4m tonnes of plastic bags in a year, creating carbon emissions and dangerous waste.