New York, 20 September 2017

President Kagame has today spoken at the Council of Foreign Relations during an exclusive discussion entitled “A Conversation with Paul Kagame”, as part of his engagements at the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York.

Among the issues that President Kagame addressed included democracy In Rwanda, unity and reconciliation, governance, regional integration among others.

On democracy and freedoms, President Kagame stated that President although democracy was a principle that everyone could identify with, but that there was a misconception surrounding it.

Democracy is democracy, choosing to define it as “western” is alright, but what does this actually mean? This very important word, democracy, is a principle we can all associate with, but it must be contextualised. The west continually tells us to fit into their description of democracy, while imposing how people should live. How are a people supposed to be free, if the way of living is to be dictated upon? Imposing a style of democracy without understanding the context, culture or norm of a country is ignorant.

President Kagame pointed out that ironically, the same people who teach Africans about democracy, turn around and offer opinions on who they would like to see lead a country.

On Rwanda’s social and economic transformation, President Kagame said Rwandans have made progress because they had a clear vision for the country right from 2000 to 2020 on how they were going to invest in in people.

The economic progress we witness in Rwanda is also linked to the political issues we were discussing earlier. Foreign Aid played a big role in the development of the country, by engaging donors on its best use. We chose to invest in the key sectors needed for our people to live a dignified life; such as education, health and security. The last 15 years has seen our economy grow between 7-8% every year. All in the hands of Rwandans and it is working. We were focused on improving ourselves first and taking the people of Rwanda to where they were supposed to be.

On third term and winning by over 98%, President Kagame stated that this had connection with the country’s history.

This all goes back to a particular point in our history. 23 years to rebuild a country and bring together a stronger people. Those who can relate to the history of Rwanda understand why this is so, with other countries this may be different. How do people win by 35% percent of the vote? For us in Rwanda we saw it coming. I was ready to wind up, all of a sudden there was mobilization, and 4 million signatures went to parliament. 4 million signatures to change the constitution, not the whole Constitution, but specific to the third term.

Concerning the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Kagame said although the problems of that country and finding solutions for them were the responsibility of the Congolese people, there were factors emanating from outside the country, pointing out MONUSCO which has failed to deliver in spite of billions of dollars availed by the international community.