Rwanda profile

President: Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame Mr Kagame has been accused of being intolerant of opposition

Paul Kagame has been in control of Rwanda since his rebel army ended the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people in 1994.

He was sworn in as vice-president and defence minister in the new, post-genocide government in July 1994, but he was widely seen as the real power in Rwanda.

In 2000 parliament elected him as president. He won presidential elections in 2003 and again in 2010.

To his admirers he is an economic visionary and to his critics he is a despot who tolerates no opposition.

He has been praised by economists for striving to turn a land of subsistence farmers into a middle-income country by 2020. Rwanda was named the world's top reformer in the World Bank's Doing Business Report 2010.

At home Mr Kagame has been criticised for trampling on freedoms. He has enjoyed a free hand in Rwanda, building up the army to assert his authority and using anti-genocide legislation to clamp down on opponents.


The run-up to the 2010 presidential elections was marred by a gruesome murder of a senior member of an opposition party, an attack on his former army chief and the slaying of a critical journalist.

Mr Kagame, born in 1957, left the country as a young child when around half a million fellow Tutsis fled following a bloody Hutu-led revolution that sparked ethnic violence.

His family settled in Uganda, and Mr Kagame later helped Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni come to power.

From 1990 he led the military arm of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPF) in its war against Rwanda's Hutu-controlled government.

His rebel force ended the 1994 genocide, in which Hutu death squads killed some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The RPF seized control of Rwanda after driving the 40,000-strong Hutu army and more than 2 million civilian Hutus into exile in neighbouring countries.

Rwanda's subsequent involvement in the DR Congo is controversial, with the UN and rights groups accusing the country of backing rebel group in its neighbour. Rwanda rejects the accusation.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Africa stories


Features & Analysis

  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?

  • A cow wearing sunglasses overlaid with the phrase 'Can't touch this'Cow row

    Thousands rally against the ban on beef in India

  • Dana Lone HillDana Lone Hill

    The Native American names that break Facebook rules

Elsewhere on the BBC


  • Former al-Qaeda double agent Aimen DeanHARDtalk Watch

    Islamic State is about revenge says former al-Qaeda member turned spy Aimen Dean

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.