Rwanda’s legendary leader looks to the future

Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame speaks at an election rally
Ruhango, July 14, 2017: Presidential candidate Paul Kagame, the incumbent president of Rwanda, launches his campaign for a third term in his home town (source: dpa)
  • Since its genocidal civil war in 1994, Rwanda has made a miraculous turnaround on Paul Kagame’s watch
  • The issue in 2017 is that the towering leader’s model of growth without political plurality is beginning to show strains

In many respects, Rwanda is Africa’s most astounding success history. For the past two decades, the country has been one of Central and East Africa’s fastest expanding economies, with a growth rate averaging 8 percent between 2001 and 2015. Most importantly, this growth, sustained by a combination of strong leadership, clear goals and rigorous management of public resources (Rwanda is among the least corrupt states in Africa), has been translated into improved living standards for a majority of the Rwandan people.

No major surprises are expected after Rwanda’s presidential elections on August 4, 2017. Mr. Kagame will win with at least a comfortable majority. However, doubts have appeared on how the government will deal with the opposition. More importantly, there is considerable uncertainty about the president’s plans for his third term, at a time when Rwanda’s model of growth and development without political power-sharing is starting to be contested, both domestically and abroad.

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