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50 People Who Matter 2011 | 48. Paul Kagame

King Tutsi.

The transformation of Rwanda after the 1994 genocide into one of Africa's fastest-growing economies can be attributed to the stewardship of Paul Kagame. The proposition is hard to test, however, because he barely allows dissent. Kagame won a second presidential term last year with 93 per cent of the vote, after banning all credible opposition parties. The moral authority he claimed for having ended the massacres, combined with charismatic advocacy around African development causes, made him a darling of western leaders, but abuses of power, both inside Rwanda and through military intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have been harder to ignore. Kagame has praised the Chinese model of economic development that emphasises growth and stability over political freedom, suggesting Rwanda will have to wait before its transition to democracy is complete.

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This article first appeared in the 26 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The fifty people who matter