Paul Kagame: ‘Coups are the result of bad governance’

By François Soudan, Romain Gras
Posted on Friday, 28 January 2022 07:23, updated on Monday, 14 March 2022 12:07

Rwandan President Paul Kagame
Rwandan President Paul Kagame (rights reserved)

Rwandan president Paul Kagame speaks on the next EU-AU summit, coups in Africa, security concerns in DRC and the thaw with Uganda, Israel in the AU, the presence of the Wagner group in Mali, access to vaccines...

Paul Kagame answered questions by videoconference from Kigali, two weeks before the summit between the European Union and the African Union (17 and 18 February in Brussels), a summit which the Rwandan President has worked to prepare alongside Emmanuel Macron, Macky Sall and Charles Michel.

Kagame been president for nearly twenty-two years. He is the interlocutor of Western governments for whom Rwanda is a pan-African player and a model of economic and social governance – but whose democratic performance is still the subject of strong criticism from NGOs and the media. Aged 64, he is now trying to “crack the armour”: tackle the image of an uncompromising man, devoid of empathy, for whom results count more than the means used to achieve them, statistics more than people.

Paul Kagame does not recognise himself in his detractors’ descriptions. This is what he explains in this interview, alongside broadsides on the major regional and pan-African issues of these first weeks of 2022.

You have actively worked on the preparation of the summit between the African Union and the European Union, scheduled for 17 and 18 February in Brussels. What do you expect from it?

Paul Kagame: Today, there are so many summits that, for some participants, it becomes a form of routine. They come more for the event itself than for the results that may come out of it. This summit gives us the opportunity to be more pragmatic. I am optimistic. The AU has understood, I think, that we have to do things differently.

Nearly $35bn have been spent on security in the DRC. What has been achieved?