The meeting brought together different Heads of States including the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani.
About how he feels after 19 years of leading Rwanda: “I still have the will and determination it takes to lead a country. I am proud of working hand in hand with Rwandans to develop our country as we rise from the ashes after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.”
He maintained that he is determined to promote the country in every field during his term in office as he was elected for a third term in 2017.
He was asked if he plans on running for president for a fourth term to which he replied: “I have not yet taken a final decision but there is a high probability I will not run again.”
He explained his decision saying that the country has reached so many milestones compared to 2017 when citizens asked for a constitutional amendment allowing his re-election. The amendment was approved by 98% of voters and allows him to compete for the top office until 2034.
About the current economic situation in Rwanda where the GDP grows by 7-8% every year, he was asked if that is not enough proof that what he was re-elected for has been achieved.
“We still have a long way to go and there are still some issues that need to be tackled. There cannot be a time where people say they have absolutely gotten what they needed.”
He added that Rwanda faced so many problems in a large part due to its dark history.
“The Genocide against Tutsi claimed more than a million lives and even though some foreign countries played a big part in that tragedy, I do not lie pointing fingers. I prefer focusing on what we, as Rwandans, can do to mend our country into what we want it to be.”
He said the genocide was mostly due to ethnic discrimination and hate ideologies that led to some people in the country feeling different from others and end up committing genocide.
President Kagame was asked what he thinks about presidents who overstay their term limits basing on cases like Zimbabwe, Angola, and Sudan among others.
He said that one cannot judge presidents who overstay their welcome without first analyzing what led to it and the procedures that were taken. He added that he was not in a place to find flaws in the leadership styles of other African presidents but that also isn’t the major problem Africa faces.
“Staying in power long after your term ends can be explained for some countries but not for others. It all depends on the country or if it is the will of citizens. Sometimes, presidents masquerade it into the will of the citizens but if it is really the case, it has to be respected.”
President Kagame said that democracy is not a one-size-fits-all government system.
Even though he did not point fingers or mention names, he stated countries where presidents overstayed their welcome and were met with outrage mostly due to the government system of those countries.
President Kagame said that he is willing to partner with other countries in different development activities but stated that interfering with African or Rwandan politics or dictating to heads of states on what to do is completely unacceptable.
“Dictating to us what we have to do cannot be tolerated.”
Relationships with DRC and Uganda
President Kagame talked about the current leadership in the Democratic Republic of Congo and said it is exemplary and puts forth good diplomatic relationships.
“There are so many efforts leaders of the Democratic Republic Congo have showed to maintain good relations with neighboring countries. There still are a few issues to be dealt with but we are confident, it will not take long to be resolved.”
About Uganda, he said that the ongoing conflict is unjustified. “In my opinion, the conflict is unfounded. It is not a fight about territories or borders or invasion. The problem can be solved and there are ongoing talks to brainstorm what can be done about the situation.”
President Kagame also talked about the problem of corruption that costs the African continent at least $50 billion a year and says that the vice can be eradicated through sensitization and complete intolerance against corruption.
“It is a problem of mentalities. If Africans join hands in combating corruption, it certainly won’t be a problem in the next years to come.”
President Kagame concluded the talk with highlights about the soon-to-be-launched African Continental Free Trade Area and the determination of African countries in ensuring the market will be put into force by 2020.
The AfCFTA will bring together all 55 member states of the African Union covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion.