Aug 5 (Reuters) - A tough disciplinarian, Paul Kagame, 52,
has been the main power in Rwandan politics since his rebel army
ended the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people in 1994.
The Aug. 9 election is the second time he has sought a popular
Here are a few key facts on the Rwandan president:
-- Kagame, born in Oct. 1957 in the western Rwanda region of
Gitarama, left the country as a young child when around half a
million fellow Tutsis fled following a bloody Hutu-led
revolution that sparked ethnic violence.
-- Kagame's family settled in Uganda. Kagame later helped
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni come to power, served in the
Ugandan army, and underwent further military training in the
-- From 1990 he lead the military arm of the Rwandan
Patriotic Army (RPF) in its war against Rwanda's Hutu-controlled
government. The death in Oct. 1990 of the RPF's charismatic
leader Fred Rwigyema, a close friend of Kagame's, had threatened
to tear the rebel movement apart. Kagame is credited with
single-handedly rebuilding the army into a 14,000-strong force.
-- Colleagues told of tough days hiding out in the Virunga
mountains, and said Kagame's soft public manner belied his
strength as a military commander.
-- The genocide in 1994 started when President Juvenal
Habyarimana, a Hutu, and neighbouring Burundi's President
Cyprien Ntaryamira were killed in an attack on their plane. In
the 100 days of violence that followed, Hutu death squads killed
Tutsis and moderate Hutus. About 800,000 people were killed.
-- The RPF seized control of Rwanda after driving the
40,000-strong Hutu army and more than 2 million civilian Hutus
into exile in Burundi, Tanzania and Zaire, which was later
renamed Democratic Republic of Congo.
-- In July 1994, a new government was sworn in with Pasteur
Bizimungu, a Hutu, as president and Kagame as vice-president and
-- Kagame was widely seen as the real power in Rwanda. In
2000, the national assembly unanimously elected him president,
the first to come from the minority Tutsis since independence
from Belgium in 1962.
-- In 2003, having never faced a public vote, Kagame won a
presidential poll with 95 percent of the vote.
-- Kagame has faced foreign criticism for his involvement in
the war in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1996
and 1997, Rwanda backed a rebellion that overthrew President
Mobutu Seso Seko's regime. Two years later, it become embroiled
in a new war that involved at least six countries.
-- As president, Kagame has focused on military and economic
co-operation with Rwanda's neighbours to the north and east, in
part to secure access to the coast and regional markets. Under
his leadership, the East African Community signed a common
market protocol to boost trade.
-- Citing the world's failure to stop the 1994 slaughter,
Kagame has often batted away criticism. Rwanda was named the
world's top reformer in the World Bank's Doing Business Report
-- In March 2010 Rwanda said it planned to repay France a
3-million-euro debt, marking the resumption of economic
cooperation between the two countries after four years. French
President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Rwanda in Feb. 2010. The two
countries had broken off ties in 2006 after a Paris judge
accused Kagame and nine aides of shooting down Habyarimana's
plane in 1994, the event that triggered the genocide.
-- At home Kagame has been criticised for trampling on
freedoms. He has enjoyed a free hand in Rwanda, building up the
army to assert his authority and using anti-genocide legislation
to clamp down on opponents.
-- A gruesome murder this month of a senior member of an
opposition party, an attack on his former army chief and the
slaying of a critical journalist have all alarmed diplomats.