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50 people that matter 2010 | 49. Paul Kagame

Rwanda wonder.

When he swept through Rwanda in 1994 at the head of a guerrilla force, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Paul Kagame was the hero who liberated his country and brought the horrific genocide to an end.

As president, he has achieved great progress - Rwanda has the second-highest growth rates in Africa, averaging 10 per cent from 1994 to 2000, and 6 per cent since then. Poverty has also decreased, from 70 per cent in 1994 to 57 per cent in 2007.

Kagame has been critical of the United Nations and has advocated new approaches to development in Africa.

But his popularity is declining in the west, as reports of human rights abuses - such as the murder of journalists and political activists - and his interventions in the Congo increase.

In the 2010 presidential elections, all credible opposition candidates were disqualified, resulting in his re-election with 93 per cent of the vote.


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This article first appeared in the 27 September 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The 50 people who matter