How Philip Davis Is Befriending Brutal Dictator President Paul Kagame
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In a show of unity and celebration, President of Rwanda Paul Kagame was awarded the Order of Excellence Award, in recognition of his friendship with the Bahamas government and its people. Kagame, who is revered by some and hated by others, was among foreign dignitaries welcomed as the guest of honor at the Bahamas’ 50th Independence Celebrations.
After receiving his award from Governor General Cornelius Smith in the presence of Prime Minister Philip Davis, as thousands of Bahamians looked on, Kagame expressed gratitude for the “growing friendship” between the Bahamas and Rwanda.
“I thank you for the invitation to participate in this celebration. In doing so, I wish to underscore the importance that Rwanda attaches to fostering closer relations between our people,” he said.
This is intriguing since the Bahamas has little to no relation to Rwanda. It is increasingly interesting since Kagame, and US representative Maxine Waters were the only foreign dignitaries awarded the Order of Excellence Awards. It appears to show Davis’ increasing popularity with world leaders and his attempt to demonstrate to the Bahamian people, amidst the complaints, that his incessant world travels have paid off.
Though Kagame is hailed by some in the West as a visionary leader because he superficially promotes women’s equality, new technologies, and environmental protection measures, Human Rights Watch has accused him of restricting political opponents, suppressing media freedom, and murdering dissidents.
Who is President Paul Kagame?
President Paul Kagame is the head of state of the eastern African country Rwanda, holding the position for 20 years. As a rebel leader, he previously commanded the Rwandan Patriotic Front which is a Ugandan-based Tutsi militia, helping to end the 1994 Genocide– also known as the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda– where 1 million Rwandans mostly of the Tutsi minority, weren killed in 100 days, as the world looked on.
Some hailed him as the soldier who became a statesman and reformer, gaining international recognition as a champion of development.
What is President Paul Kagame’s leadership style?
Kagame has been known to rule with an iron fist, exiling and assassinating his critics.
Dissident David Himbara, a former insider who once served as a senior aide and economic adviser to Kagame before their relationship was severed, said, “He is a very aggressive person, uncontrolled and violent.”
Himbara is like many other former close confidants of Kagame who fell out with the leader and then fled to other countries to avoid political persecution. Himbara fled to Canada in 2013.
Patrick Karegeya was another dissident and former secret service agent who fled Rwanda in 2007 after being imprisoned twice by Kagame’s regime. He was found strangled to death in a hotel room in a well-planned attack in South Africa in 1994. Kagame denied the allegations, “Rwanda did not kill this person – and it’s a big ‘no’.”
However, unashamedly Kagame added, “But I add that, I actually wish Rwanda did it. I really wish it.”
And at a prayer breakfast in Rwanda, with local governmental ministers, Kagame said, “Whoever betrays the country will pay the price, I assure you. Any person still alive who may be plotting against Rwanda, whoever they are, will pay the price.”
“Whoever it is, it is a matter of time,” he declared.
Human Rights Watch’s Central Africa Director Lewis Mudge told the BBC, “Rwanda is a country where it’s very, very dangerous to oppose the government, let alone to be a political opponent… and this authoritarian system is going to be the system for the foreseeable future.”
Will President Kagame ever give up power?
Rwanda has no real opposition party and in May, Kagame indicated that he could serve as President until 2035.
Changes to the constitution permit him to extend his term in office until then, prompting international criticism and concerns from human rights groups.
In 2017, he won a third term as president with nearly 99 percent of the votes. More than 6.6 million votes were cast for him with a turnout of about 96 percent.
At 65, Kagame is showing no sign of retiring as he continues to build on his legacy as a hero and stern statesman.