Rwandan president Paul Kagame has defended his record in office and denied any role in the murder of a senior official in his office during an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera’s People and Power.
Renowned journalist Sorious Samura interviewed the leader on the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, where over 500,000 Tutsis were killed by Hutu rebels in April 1994. Under the leadership of Paul Kagame, Rwanda has emerged as one of Africa’s most unlikely success stories. It is now one of the safest countries on the continent with a fast-growing economy, free education, universal healthcare, and the average life expectancy has doubled.
Kagame notes “I think the amount of work we have done to change things, to change the mentality, to change the thinking of people, and the very lessons brought by the suffering and all the horrific things that happened to us in the genocide, I don’t think there would be any grounds for the country going back to those bad days. That is my belief.”
However, there are critics of Kagame who accuse him of oppressive tactics. When asked about his involvement in the murder of his former chief of intelligence Patrick Karegeya in January, Kagame responded: “So what we are accused of, we have been waiting for anybody to provide even the slightest evidence to point to that, to prove what they are saying.”
Samura also asked Kagame to address alleged comments made by a member of his inner circle, quoted to have said about Karegeya’s death “When you choose to live like a dog, you will die like a dog”. Kagame told Al Jazeera: “The meaning is: Somebody who has been serving the country he chose to call his own, and later on turns against it, starts to get involved with organisations that are carrying out terror in this country, from whose hands, many have been killed, others maimed. Here it feels like his person deserved it. Deserved the death whatever the cause was. This is where it comes from.”
Samura also probed Kagame on his governance style, to which he responded: “I’m here because the people of Rwanda have chosen me, have elected me and actually accepted me as their leader and respect me as their leader. So calling everybody dictators, authoritarian, tyrant. I really don’t understand it.”