Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rwandan President Addresses 20-Year Effort To Restore Country

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is speaking at a dinner in Los Angeles tonight about his country’s strides in overcoming the horrific events that divided the central African nation 20 years ago.

The UCLA Center for World Health and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council is hosting Rwandan President Paul Kagame as he speaks about his 20-year effort to restore stability in his once war-torn nation.

This April marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan civil war that pitted two ethnic groups against each other. Human rights groups say this resulted in the genocide of more than 800,000 men, women and children.

During the war, Kagame was the leader of the Rwandan Patriot Front, which was essential in overthrowing Hutu groups and bringing an end to the conflict. Some news sources accused these groups of leading the genocide of Tutsis.

UCLA Center for World Health Director Thomas Coates says the university wanted Kagame to speak in the U.S. because of his actions in increasing Rwanda’s Gross Domestic Product and literacy rates while also decreasing poverty and AIDS.

According to USAID, the U.S. government gave Rwanda $93 million in 2011, which went toward economic development, education, health, and the environment.

Coates says financial aid to developing countries is advantageous for the U.S. because it can increase trade efforts for minerals and resources in many African countries including Rwanda.

The New York Times reported that the U.S. cut military funding to Rwanda in 2012 because of allegations that the country was financially supporting rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Telegraph in Britain reports that Kagame’s government is facing allegations of assassinating its former Spy Chief Patrick Karegeya.

But Keith Harmon Snow, an independent war-crime investigator and former United Nations genocide investigator, compares Kagame’s presidency to Adolf Hitler’s regime in Nazi Germany. He says the Kagame led RPF is responsible for initiating the civil war and was financially backed by the U.S. government.

Follow the reporter @ShawnFVRaymundo