EYEAFRICA TV: Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA: The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) have elected Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda as chairperson of African Union (AU) replacing Alpha Conde, President of Guinea who has been chairing the Union since 2017.
The African leaders unanimously elected President Kagame at a meeting at 30th Ordinary Session of the Union at its Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Other members elected for the AU bureau are Faiz El Saraj, President of the Presidential Council of Libya (North Africa) as 1st Vice Chair, Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa as 2nd Vice Chair, Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of Congo (Central Africa) as 3rd Vice Chair and Alpha Conde, President of Guinee (West Africa) as 4th Vice Chair.
In his acceptance speech President Paul Kagame said it is a solemn honour for him to accept the call to serve as Chairperson of the Union. He expressed his gratitude to the Heads of State for their double trust; first, as the leader of the reform process and now as the leader of the African Union.
“I promise to do this with you and do the best job I can. Obviously, I will need your full support” he said, before acknowledging the high experience of his predecessor, saying “President Alpha Condé is a professor and a teacher and he can safely say that he have learned from him.
Paul Kagame is a Rwandan statesman serving as President of Rwanda, having taken office in 2000 when his predecessor, Pasteur Bizimungu, resigned. Kagame previously commanded the rebel force that ended the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. He was considered Rwanda’s de facto leader when he served as Vice President and Minister of Defence from 1994 to 2000.
Kagame was born to a Tutsi family in southern Rwanda. His mother was younger sister to King Ndahindurwa’s wife. When he was two years old, the Rwandan Revolution ended centuries of Tutsi political dominance; his family fled to Uganda, where he spent the rest of his childhood.
In the 1980s, Kagame fought in Yoweri Museveni’s rebel army, becoming a senior Ugandan army officer after Museveni’s military victories carried him to the Ugandan presidency. Kagame joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which invaded Rwanda in 1990; leader Fred Rwigyema died early in the war and Kagame took control. By 1993, the RPF controlled significant territory in Rwanda and a ceasefire was negotiated. The assassination of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana was the starting point of the genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed a little more than a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu combined. Kagame resumed the civil war, and ended the genocide with a military victory.
During his vice presidency, Kagame controlled the national army and maintained law and order, while other officials began rebuilding the country. Many RPF soldiers carried out retribution killings. Kagame said he did not support these killings and failed to stop them; a small number of these soldiers were later put on trial. Hutu refugee camps formed in Zaire and other countries, which were controlled by the genocidaires (participants in the genocide) and threatened Rwanda’s security.