A Conversation with Paul Kagame

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paul Kagame, president of the Republic of Rwanda, discusses Rwanda's domestic and foreign policies, as well as the dire need for a stronger energy infrastructure.

VINCENT MAI: Good morning, everybody. My name is Vincent Mai, and I'm delighted to be presiding at the event this morning for President Kagame of Rwanda.

Before we start our discussion, I would like just to mention a few of the house rules, which I think you all are very familiar with. Turn off your cellphones. And also, just to let you know, the -- this meeting today is on the record. Our next meeting will be this evening from 5:30 to 7:00. It will be a book party with Stewart Patrick, author of "Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security," a very relevant topic this evening in the context of our discussion now.

President Kagame, I think, needs no introduction. All of you have followed the events in Rwanda the last 20 years-plus. I'd like just to say a couple of brief things before -- about him before we start.

Firstly, it's a great privilege for us to have you with us. It's 10 years since the president was at the council before. It was an off-the-record session in Washington, D.C. A lot has happened in the last -- in the last 10 years.

President Kagame has been in a leadership position in Rwanda since the genocide. He led the Rwandan Patriotic Forces who overthrew the genocidal government. He has been elected president twice, the second time last year for a term of seven years.

And I think for all of us, what has happened in Rwanda under President Kagame's leadership has really been an inspiration to all of us who are interested in Africa. The country today is -- was ranked by the World Bank last year, I think, as the top reformer in the world. His leadership has created calm and stability. The literacy rate in Rwanda today is at 70 percent and growing, one of the highest in Africa. He is here right now to lead a delegation which is promoting foreign investment in Rwanda. The economy has been performing very, very well for many years now, and foreign investment is a very important component of the -- of the future for the country -- so a lot of wonderful things that have happened under your leadership, Mr. President.

I'd like just to start off by asking you if you could give the audience an overview of the socioeconomic situation in Rwanda today, and then we'll just take the discussion from there.

PRESIDENT PAUL KAGAME: OK. Well, thank you for inviting me to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Rwanda's story is a lot of resilience and commitment of the people of Rwanda, and around a vision that will deliver development and prosperity to their country. And building on that vision, Rwandans fully understand that it is their responsibility, their primary responsibility, to do what is in -- within their means and they should indeed see that as the primary responsibility, to develop themselves and develop our country. And that's what has been forming and driving the different things that have happened in the country in terms of social and economic development and other developments as well.

We also realize, in Rwanda -- and have been driven by this -- that the primary resource, asset of the country is the people of the country, our people themselves. And that's why we for the last 17 years have been doing the best we can to invest in our people in the area of health, their health; education; ensuring food security; and peace and stability that people must enjoy in order for them to continue to realize progress in these areas.

For the last 10 years -- 10 years or so, we have realized -- our economy has been growing at a rate of about 8 percent every year for the last 10 years. So we've done or have been doing what is humanly possible within our means to make sure that we -- (inaudible) -- continued growth and in an environment that is politically, economically, socially stable.

Definitely Rwanda would not have done all this on its own and would not have made such a progress just on its own. We have also had the support of many partners in the international community who have availed their resources and different capacities to -- in order for us to continue making even more progress.

As you rightly said, we have also focused on trade and investment and how that kind of reinforce and supports our continued development.

And that's why you concentrated on doing the business, how economic it is for people to invest and to do business in Rwanda, and so on and so forth.

So -- so far, so good. Progress continues. Many challenges are still ahead that we have to confront, and we continue confronting the challenges.

MAI: Thank you. I'd like -- I have one or two questions on your domestic situation and one or two on foreign policy, and then open it up to questions from the floor.

But just to pick up on what you've just said, and in terms of your economic development, could you talk about your energy situation, which, I understand, is one of the big challenges that Rwanda has in terms of economic development and how you think of it in terms of alternative energy. Just what -- how much of an impediment the energy restrictions are in terms of economic growth.

KAGAME: Energy has been a big challenge for Rwanda, and it is actually a challenge for the rest of the continent, and I guess beyond, as really many countries are faced with energy challenges. But for Rwanda, it has been very acute, and we have also been seeking investment in this area. Government, together with different partners -- we are beginning to make good investments in the energy sector.

The private sector is showing a lot of interest and has already, in a number of cases, made investments that give us hope that in another two to four or five years, we should have stabilized the situation.

We also work together with others in the region -- the East African Community. We have regional projects to address these issues of energy. The East African Community comprises of five countries: Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda. So there have been national approaches and regional approaches as well as the partnerships we have had with the international investors. But how serious as an opportunity for the investments, but also which gives us the opportunity to address (these energies ?).

And today in Rwanda, mainly we have been relying on hydro sources of energy. Obviously these ones -- the hydro source creates some difficulties because it has a relationship with the climate situation, one or the other. But it is a clean source of energy otherwise.

We've been looking at methane gas. We have a lot of methane gas, which we share with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and we have reached an understanding of how we can together exploit this resource to provide us with energy and beyond. Energy -- other investments could be made for different things, building on this resource.

Then geothermal, solar energy, especially rolled out in different places, in rural areas -- and we continue to find different alternatives.

MAI: Thank you. My final question just on the domestic situation really has to do with your sense of leadership, and particularly how you trade off your commitment to democracy, and freedom, and freedom of expression -- how you balance that off, given the genocide and the terrible experience that the country went through, how you balance that with, you know, avoiding hateful speech and a lot of the elements that went to create that situation.

But how do you trade off your belief in democracy and freedom on the one hand with, you know, preventing a reemergence of those -- of those forces that created, you know, those awful events?

KAGAME: Well, I don't know whether I should call it trade-off as much as I should call it -- it's just when you are confronted with many challenges that you have to deal with at the same time. How to deal with all of these problems? We know it is our duty, we have to deal with economic development, we have to deal with democracy, governance, other issues, we have to deal with the freedoms and -- freedom of expression.

All of these come at the same time. And I think in our approach we have not said, well, let's hold on this one and let's deal with this one. No, we approach it in a certain way that we are saying, we have to deal with all this. But we may not get where we want to be overnight. We have -- it's a process.

We have to deal with everything at the same time, building on whatever possibilities that are in a place or that are within our means and be able to make progress. You may find there is more progress in one area than in another area. Even if you are to deal specifically with one sector that has different problems to deal with, you still may find that you are making progress on one element, you are behind on another, and you have to keep working on all of them at the same time.

But of course, having said that, there are certain things that one must do in order to, for example, build a foundation on which then you can keep building. When you talk about peace, security and the general stability the country needs to have in order then for the people of the country to move on and to be able to address their different challenges, then you deal with that because this is the foundation you're trying to build, and then others follow as and when this is possible and at a pace that is possible.

So for us, we don't approach it with the view that there is any conflict between one -- dealing with one and dealing with the other. No, we approach it understanding that success in one may actually contribute to the success of the other and add to the efforts you are trying to put in dealing with that that may be behind.

And this is what we have found that is working for us.

But above all, we build on the choices, the feeling, the expressions of the people themselves. It's not about reading a textbook and say, well, you must have these, you must have -- no. It's also about saying what the people of Rwanda feel about their situation, what do they need to do about it and what are the different approaches that (suited it ?). This is very important. And in most -- in most cases it is not so much thought about when people are making this analysis or how we deal with our situation.

So critical for us has been how do we involve the people of Rwanda in defining their problem, in looking for solutions for our problems. And this does not exclude outsiders. We learn from people from outside. We partner with them in dealing with different challenges. But it may not also be very helpful for sometimes people to think they know better what Rwandans want for them. So there are these challenges we confront on a daily basis. But nonetheless, it's very useful because it also forms lessons. As we go along, as we deal with different challenges, we learn. We learn about what works, what works for us, what may not work after all. And we keep moving.

MAI: Thank you. One final question on foreign policy and then we'll open it up to questions from the floor.

There are many countries in Africa where there are many conflicts going on at the moment. I'd like to talk about the role of the African Union, which -- we were talking earlier about this before you came in -- which sometimes is viewed in the outside world, at least in the United States, as often being very overly tolerant of bad leaders. But what role you -- Rwanda is playing in the African Union? What role are you playing, given the example of Rwanda? And just how you see the African Union as a vehicle to address effectively the problem areas in Africa.

KAGAME: The African Union in itself and by itself is a (good ?) thing. It's -- so that we have an African Union. So the principle is about having Africa coming together and thinking about our problems and finding ways to deal with our problems. That, in itself, is fair enough to have and good to have.

The second is, we have to organize the complexity of the existence of African Union. It's a union of 53 or 54 states, each with probably a different background. And we have as many divergent backgrounds based on race, different understanding, different histories, different influences that have acted upon all these countries at different times, and have had different impacts on these countries.

So expecting them, or the countries, to come together, the 53 or so, and agree on one thing every time, and the right thing about dealing with a certain situation, I think, (clearly ?) has a problem. There's no question about it.

But at least there's this talking. There's discussion, debates. There's, you know, agreeing and disagreeing and so on and so forth, and some are (immovable ?).

But each country, and in this particular case, Rwanda, makes its views very clear, irrespective of what other views that exist in the African Union. On particular issues, we are able to express our opinions. Sometimes we have people agreeing with us, or we agree with others that have the same views, and we move on. Sometimes we have (others ?) totally thinking differently, and it -- this divides the African Union in its approach or in finding a solution, and thus, in a sense, weakens the African Union and its otherwise potential to deal with many.

But at the same time, often -- when you are talking about African Union, sometimes, it's not just African Union. There are other influences acting from outside of Africa to even influence the opinions of the members of the union. You see this in dealing with the specific cases, whether it is the conflicts or it is issues of trade or different things that you have to deal with.

But this one reminds me, or reminds us or in our continent that yes, we -- there will always be these pressures or influences or advices that come from different corners that mean different things. But, at the end of the day, Rwanda or the Africans represented in the African Union have also to be thinking of what is it that is no interest, what is it that strengthens us, what is it that builds us the ability to address the different challenges we face every day, every year, even if a lot of these external factors that may impact Africa in different ways. So it's a challenge, that war zone, and that you have to -- (inaudible).

MAI: Quick follow up to that. Libya, where the African Union has been actively involved, President Zuma went to meet President Gadhafi -- any view on a consensus in the African Union about what the resolution of the Libyan conflict should be?

KAGAME: There was a discussion about the Libyan conflict and there are different opinions, clearly. There are many opinions on the continent: some thinking nothing should be done; the decision should be left to Gadhafi to sort out; the others saying no, it's too late. Maybe if it were to be a year ago and people had foreseen this, they would have asked, you know, Gadhafi to address a problem that was coming, and so on and so forth.

But now that it is too late, we can't say, we leave it to Gadhafi or the government of Libya to be the ones to sort themselves out. And so they are -- (inaudible) -- because so many things have happened in the recent past that people have begun -- have started thinking, maybe different ways of dealing with the matter has to be -- have to be looked at.

So at the end of the discussions, a statement came out, which was rather vague, you know, that's saying, you know, cease the fire and so on, and not showing how that would be achieved or what that would mean or what it would entail in terms of providing a solution, so that the conflict is ended and a peaceful resolution is found, and so on and so forth.

So President Zuma of South Africa, it's true, went to Libya to meet with Gadhafi. To be honest, I'm not very sure -- I have the sense of what the message he took to Gadhafi was. But what I'm not very sure about is whether it was a message from the African Union or from the people outside of the African Union. The message itself was clear and good, but who owns it and who supports it, to come to the end, and does Gadhafi accept it as the way to deal with the issues on the ground, especially when he feels that the whole world is divided about how to deal with the matter.

These are things that remain to be addressed.

MAI: Thank you.

OK, we'll turn it over to questions from all of you. And as usual, just say who you are, who you represent, with your questions. We'll start over here. Thank you.

QUESTIONER: Yeah. You've come under -- oh --

STAFF: (Off mic) -- identify -- (off mic).

QUESTIONER: Oh, I'm sorry. My name's Elmira Bayrasli. I'm with the Peace Dividend Trust.

You've come under a lot of criticism from a lot of human rights groups, particularly Human Rights Watch. Some of your defenders have said that these groups criticize you, but they have an outmoded definition of what human rights is. What's your definition of human rights? And how does that differ from the definition of -- that Human Rights Watch has?

KAGAME: Well -- by the way, I have been involved with the human rights situations and lived a life that tells me what human rights constitute, irrespective of who else defines it. Human rights are rights that must be enjoyed by any human being. It's life -- it's right to life. First we must be able to live. It's a life that should be without injustice.

It's a life that allows anybody -- everybody to feel free and express themselves and do what they think they should do that does not harm somebody else who also wants to live like that. If you will -- it's a broad kind of thing. But depending on where we all come from, we may be informed differently about it, but it constitutes vaguely a broad thing that matters to all of us.

In fact, human rights, again, are not just things that must be taught by some teaching others what human rights are. Human rights are lived. They are not -- they don't come out just out of instructions given to people. This is where it comes from.

Now, in Rwanda, for me based on this that I'm talking about, it's about working with Rwandans, all of them together, and saying, what is our problem? How do we live? How do we live in this Rwanda, and this world, that gives us the kind of dignity we must have and ought to have and deserve? It's a simple as that.

(Yes ?), Rwandans -- (inaudible) -- me, and them, and anyone else to have their say over their lives. It's not about lectures from anybody. It's not about lectures from Human Rights Watch.

It's not lectures from anybody. It's about how we also, as human beings, decide to live and see we live the kind of life we deserve to live.

This is my definition. And I have -- in my contribution to the well-being of my country, I have done nothing short of that, of realizing that, of wanting to realize that, nothing short of that.

MAI: Thank you.

Right at the back there.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Jake Bright, BNY Mellon.

Mr. President, I know you've had a unique position on your country's development vis-a-vis foreign aid and NGOs versus markets and trade and development. Could you please comment on that?

KAGAME: My comment on that is -- I think we -- I mentioned a bit of that area.

Again, there's no conflict in terms of development, in terms of people being empowered to fully realize themselves and their aspirations. So for Rwanda to develop, we have to have what we didn't have a number of years ago, to value ourselves and value each other, and accept each other for whatever diversity there might be. In our own society, we look to everyone to help make a contribution for the well-being of the whole, of all of us.

And that's why we make simple, I mean -- but basic and straightforward choices for us. When you invest in education, when you invest in health, so that people can have good health -- when you do all of this, it's about giving hope and possibilities to everyone to do what they want to have the kind of life and live the kind of life they want to live.

Now, many of these activities require a lot of resources. There are resources that will come from people themselves, or from the country, or from their social -- (inaudible) -- can be mobilized within, or sources that will be mobilized from outside world -- the outside world may render their support through different aid programs -- or resources from private investment. We don't discriminate as to the resources, where and where they come from. The government aid -- we'll work on that. Private sector investments? Absolutely. We want that to happen probably more than anything.

So -- but when it comes to aid, for example -- our definition of it, again, and how we think it should work, is in learning from different and past experiences, is -- any aid, any support will be more meaningful, will have a meaning, if it builds capacities of people to be able to stand on their own and work and develop themselves.

Aid should be accepted and invested in a certain way that tomorrow, you don't need more aid, that you can be able to stand on your own based on what you've reaped from the efforts and what the previous aid gave you.

This is understanding. But the private investment will give different possibilities to different people. So much depend on themselves to be self-sufficient, to be able to do what they can do to be able to have the future they want. So we really don't discriminate.

MAI: Anything over there?

QUESTIONER: Hello. Peggy Hicks with Human Rights Watch. To continue the discussion, hopefully not a lecture -- I wanted to ask you President Kagame, you spoke earlier about not having to trade off freedom of expression for other rights or other values.

And I wanted to place that in the context of last years elections, which you won by 93.8 percent, and there were no other political parties -- the new opposition political parties were not allowed to stand. And many of the independent journalist voices were silent. And a number of those who were arrested remain imprisoned at this time.

How do you square that with your belief that freedom of expression is being realized in Rwanda today?

KAGAME: Well, first, lectures, I think that it becomes part of them. But that has also been explained, I don't know how many times, to Human Rights Watch directly itself and to many others. But maybe -- I don't know whether we should be changing the approach of asking the question and answering it, in the sense that I wish you took the time to put this question to the people of Rwanda and hear what they tell you, because what may -- what they tell you -- whatever they tell you, whatever they answer in relation to this may not interest you because, in your own way, you are also accusing me at the same time or accusing the government or the leaders of Rwanda.

But let me start by correcting a few things. Parties in Rwanda, political parties -- there are about 10 of them. Now it may be up to you to say, well, I don't like that party; I don't like the other one, it's not a party. So you've given yourself the mandate to be the one to call five which becomes a party or which doesn't become in Rwanda. So there's nothing that they can do about that.

But for political parties or political activities anywhere, including here where we are seated, there are rules that are played by that have been put in place by people. To the extent that someone with these rules -- I don't know whether -- well, I don't need to start giving a lecture myself about other people's situations, but I know there are things that are unacceptable here or in Rwanda or anywhere else, especially when they work to the detriment of society. Or if they are not in conformity with what the society has chosen as the rules and the laws that govern them, then the rules and laws will apply.

I don't think Rwanda will be an exception.

So 93 percent. In fact, I wonder why it wasn't higher than that. And I'm saying this because I'm talking of the context of Rwanda, please. Rwanda 17 years ago that was totally destroyed, absolutely -- millions displaced, millions refugees -- that was put back together.

This question about elections, about outcome and so on and so forth, imagine this question of elections was even raised in 1994 in a country that half of the population was displaced or -- (inaudible). Right? So to me, sometimes issues are raised absolutely out of context.

Now, let me tell you -- you talk about the results of elections. Let me tell you something else. The turnout for elections in Rwanda, the turnout, the people who turned out to vote, of about the population that was -- (individuals ?) to vote was 5.4 million. Ninety-six percent of them turned out to vote, freely, voluntarily.

Now, you can question me about this and say, "Why did 96 percent of the people turned out to vote?" I don't know. (Ask it ?). I don't know why, in a country, the turnout may be 30 percent. But I may guess what it is. In some countries, people have lost appetite for politics or for electoral politics or for even electing their leaders, and they don't bother to go in to vote, even in the developed countries.

So you question about 96 percent turnout. You don't question 30 percent turnout. But it all happens for a reason. There is a reason why they happen like that. And the reason for Rwanda to have a turnout of 96 percent is because of where Rwanda is coming from. The tragedy of Rwanda -- (inaudible) -- whole country totally destroyed, and trying to build something. And they are saying, "We want a fresh start. We want security. We want peace. We want democracy. We want development." And they come to express themselves.

When they come to express themselves, again, they're expressing themselves on the basis of what the context is about and what the choices they have to make are about. It's the same people who have been behind these laws that govern Rwanda and govern electoral laws, electoral processes, these same people of Rwanda.

You want to ask me why they turn out 93 percent. Ask me why turn out 93 percent. They can just go there and investigate. They will tell you why. But we choose to ignore them, but these are the people of Rwanda saying what they want. You may have a different opinion as Human Rights Watch, but the people of Rwanda, whose lives matter to them, have their say as well.

There were four presidential candidates from four different political parties, or you prefer to say this is (not ?) your position. Well, it's not your position by your own definition, by your own account. I don't know what you want. I don't know whether what you want is what Rwandans want.

Now, if you are going to tell me that the right position for Rwanda is a leader who will come saying they want to do what was done in 1994, I will disagree with you. I say no. I don't think anybody goes looking for that kind of leader in any country that I know of.

So if there was a leader who comes and says, "For me, my job is to stand for elections and to do what these other people didn't do or what didn't finish," and you find they are connected with the same people, of what happened and what they did in 1994, and you have laws in place to protect our society, I have no apologies to make about this. And I don't think Rwandans apologize for it. Neither should they.

So whether you have a different view about it as Human Rights Watch, so be it. That's business. That's -- (inaudible). It is Rwandan business too. It is what Rwandans want. It is Rwandans' business. Eleven million Rwandans sit and decide for themselves. They have values too, their own values.

But they are conscience of -- very conscience of universal values that they must (fit in ?) as well. They do. Don't underrate the people of Rwanda, these ordinary people you see. Listen to them and listen to what they want as well.

So thank you from Human Rights Watch.

MAI: Thank you.

The hand that went up first on that side over there -- that lady. Thank you.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Laurie Garrett from the Council.

Mr. President, thank you very, very much for joining us today. We're deeply honored by your presence.

The tragedy of 17 years ago, of course, did not remain confined to Rwanda and has spawned a whole chain of armies and militias in vicious combat across the entire region of the Great Lakes and down into the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now the Congo dispute is fueled by the precious resources, gems and metals, that these bandits can extract from the ground to become the financing for their ongoing military disputes.

Can you foresee a road to solving this, either through the AU or other means, and permanently disband these rival armies, bandit groups, militias, tribal groups, whatever you want to call them, so that the region has stability and Congo has some hope of becoming a stable state?

KAGAME: Let me make a clarification. I understand what was (ruining ?) Rwanda is not just Rwanda's responsibility. Sometimes it goes beyond the borders and affects other people, and the other people have what they can do to deal with a situation, and so on and so forth.

The same thing happens even with the Congo, DRC, and probably much more so with the DRC because it's a very big country. What happens there does not only affect the Congolese. It affects nine neighbors. It affects the whole continent and beyond. Of course, it affects the whole world, actually, because the whole world is also interested in the Congo, not only what happens there, but what they can do there or what they have been doing there for decades and centuries.

What I want to point out here is, however, sometimes I do not agree that the solution, say, for Congo will necessarily always come from outside or that it will come from Rwanda, because sometimes it has that kind of connotation.

What will deal with the problems largely in Congo, originating from Congo, is going to come from Congo. How does it come from Congo is a very different question for me to answer, because I cannot say or answer for Congo. The Congolese -- Congo has its people, the Congolese, their leaders, and so on and so forth. I think they have -- as we struggle in Rwanda to deal with our own problems, I'm sure the Congolese must be struggling to deal with their own problems.

So these tribal armies, different things that have -- you know, some of which existed, by the way, even before this tragedy of 1994; I don't know whether you would be aware of this. These militias -- the people, they're called Mai Mai. Mai Mai -- I learned -- I read about Mai Mai in the (studies ?) of `60s, 1960s.

These Mai Mais used to exist, and they are linked with the different conflicts that took place in the Congo, in different parts for different reasons, whether in the Katanga wars and different wars that took place over the years with different influences that played a role in what shaped Congo to be what it is today.

But at the same time, we have the international community in the form of U.N. that has, for quite some time, decided that they will do something about what happens in the Congo. They have been there. There has been a mission in the Congo for so many years, supported by the international community.

Now, there -- they have been there for so many years, very expensive mission, probably spending close to a billion dollars every year. If this mission is there to do nothing and they have to be asked to give a solution to the problems of the Congo, it is a problem. The international community or the U.N., for this mission that is there, should be the one to tell the world what issues are on the ground and how to deal with these issues. But that doesn't happen, which is an indication that this is a serious problem.

But they should be there to work with the government of the Congo and institutions in the Congo for trying to do whatever they can do to strengthen the institutions of the Congo so that they can take on these challenges as Congolese, and even if they were to get support from outside, but there's no way you can bypass the Congolese themselves, like you wouldn't bypass the Rwandans in the Rwandan problem, to deal with their problems.

So I have no solution other than telling you that this is the problem. This is what could possibly be done, and by whom. But whether that gets done to give the results that we all want, the stability in the Congo, the absence of these militias that you've talked about that have existed for more than 17 years, in actual fact, that I (thought ?) I mentioned, for that to happen is different. But it has to be done, and you have (then ?) to see results.

But so far we have -- (inaudible) -- 17 years, and you have continued to see these problems. And sometimes, because we address symptoms and we are not addressing the root cause of the problem -- when women in the Congo are raped, when children are killed, when there is this and that, it's not about minerals. It's about governance -- (inaudible) -- that are there.

It's about the (significance ?) of institutions, whether they are local or international, to deal with the very issues that -- (inaudible) -- in a situation that is not properly governed, of course, these resources that everybody will help themselves to -- the militias, the others; oh, but even others from outside the region.

These minerals are not just eaten like food, like you smuggle maize and go and cook it and eat it. No. These are minerals that are processed that will -- (inaudible) -- so that you have companies that invest there and get -- (inaudible) -- and so on and so forth, but because of lack of governance structures that affect you, even as militias pass around and exploit these -- (inaudible) -- that exist.

MAI: Thank you, Mr. President.

I think -- I'm afraid I'm under very strict instructions here about finishing on time. And President Kagame has a very tight schedule. I know there's still lots of hands, so I apologize for the fact that no more questions can be taken, because I know there are a lot.

I would just like to say to you, Mr. President, that when you think of the time line of Rwanda, 1994 to today, I think it's one of the most inspiring stories in Africa. I know you mentioned you've got lots of challenges and issues to deal with. But if you think what has been accomplished under your leadership, it really is one of the finest examples of good governance and good leadership in Africa.

So on behalf of many people around the world and in the United States and the Council, to congratulate you and to thank you and to say that I hope it's not going to be as long as 10 years before you come back to the Council. It's been a great honor for us to have you with us here today -

KAGAME: (Inaudible) -- back sooner.

MAI: -- because we appreciate hearing from you. And as you can see, there's great interest in Rwanda. And I wish you success in your efforts to promote more foreign investment. I know you're going to a -- in Chicago now, there's going to be a big event looking for foreign investors for Rwanda.

So thank you for coming; appreciate your comments. They've been very, very enlightening.

KAGAME: Thank you.

MAI: Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)









Top Stories on CFR

Election 2024

Each Friday, I look at what the presidential contenders are saying about foreign policy. This Week: The United States may come to rue its failure to get its fiscal house in order. 


Israel has made eliminating the threat from the Gaza-based militant group a central war aim, but it’s not entirely clear at what point that condition will be met.  


Outright seizure of the Russian Central Bank’s hundreds of billions in frozen assets is currently off the table, but it is still possible to obtain large sums for Ukraine from the interest income on these assets.