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Paul Kagame

Kagame, Paul (kägäˈmə) [key], 1957–, Rwandan political leader. Kagame was born into a Tutsi family that fled (1960) ethnic violence in Rwanda. Raised in Uganda, he became a member of Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army, was active in the guerrilla war (1980–86) that brought Museveni to power in Uganda, and served (1986–1990) in the Ugandan army. Kagame then led the Rwandan Patriotic Front forces, but failed to oust the Rwandan government until after President Habyarimana's death (1994) and the bloody anti-Tutsi violence and chaos that ensued. In the new Hutu-Tutsi transitional government Kagame became vice president but held the real power. After President Bizimungu broke with Kagame and resigned (2000), Kagame succeeded to the office and consolidated his position. Credited with restoring stability to ethnically divided Rwanda, he also has been criticized for suppressing democratic opposition to his rule. He was elected president in 2003 and reelected in 2010 after campaigns in which the government actively hindered opposition parties and their candidates.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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