19 August 2017

Africa: There's More That Unites Than Divides Africa, Says Kagame

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President Paul Kagame yesterday delivered a powerful inaugural speech, rallying Rwandans and Africans to stand together in the interest of their own people as that is the root of all successes.

The address was delivered after swearing in as President of Rwanda for the next seven years.

The President pointed out that for centuries, Africa has faced adversity, but it is the continent's civilisation that has sustained it.

"Africa has no civilisational problems, only assets," Kagame said adding the phrase "Sans aucun doute" in French with reference to the French president recent comment on Africa's civilisation.

"Over centuries of adversity, our civilisation sustained us. Today it endows us with ambition, compassion and creativity. Without exception, there is infinitely more that unites us, as Africans, than divides us," Kagame reiterated.

"It is important for Rwandans and our fellow Africans to feel reassured that attacks on our character only make us stronger, provided we respond with clarity and conviction."

The President added that every African country has to contend with efforts made to make them live on someone else's terms.

"They demand that we replace systems that are working well for us with dogmas in which their own people are rapidly losing faith," Kagame said.

African unity

Kagame urged fellow Africans to work together and more closely, saying that the governance and prosperity of Africa cannot be outsourced.

"Let's build on the reform spirit that has taken root in the African Union, and indeed in every African country, to quickly deliver the results that our people expect and have been waiting for," he said.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by over 20 African Heads of State, former African heads of state, among other dignitaries from across the globe.

Thousands of Rwandans filled the Amahoro National Stadium, with many more watching on giant screens mounted outside the venue.

The ceremony was also broadcast live on public TV and radio with millions more following online.

Kagame thanked Rwandans for staying united and focusing on building their country, pledging to keep leading them as they strive to achieve their desired prosperity.

"I would like to express particular appreciation to Rwandans for renewing the trust between us. It is truly a privilege and an honour to serve you," he told thousands of citizens at the stadium.

He added: "The gains in public services, individual well-being, and national unity are now undeniably real. Rwanda's institutions are founded on the common good as it should have been all along."

Continued partnerships

Kagame rooted for continued partnership between Africans to advance their own well-being, explicitly addressing delegates from several African countries who graced the event.

"Nothing gives our people greater pride than contributing together with you to the greatness of our continent," he said, adding that other Africans have been with Rwanda when Rwandans needed them most.

He applauded the presence of many African leaders at the swearing-in ceremony, explaining that it inspires the kind of solidarity and partnership needed among African nations to advance their citizens' development.

"The presence of so many brothers and sisters from around Africa honours our nation deeply and gives us strength. We thank you," he told the African high-level delegates at the event.

The President also acknowledged the eight other political parties who joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front to nominate him as their candidate.

"For 23 years, we have collaborated closely and with deep mutual respect to repair the social fabric of our devastated nation and bring us to where we are today," he said.

"I also congratulate the two other candidates who brought their message directly to our citizens. Together we created a positive environment where no vote was cast against anyone, but rather all were cast for Rwanda."

Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent candidate, also contested in the August 4 presidential election.

The President thanked the youth, especially the first-time voters who turned out in large numbers and played an active role in the election process.

"Our priority is to deepen the moral pact with all the young women and men who voted for the first time, and with such passion," he said.

"The ambition of these young men and women is remarkable. We see your determination to work hard, achieve a lot, and become the pride of your families, as well as an asset to the entire nation."

Going forward, the President pledged to advance quality of education that Rwandans need to compete in the services and industries of the future.

He also encouraged members of the country's private sector to fully take part in building the country and their own prosperity based on self-reliance spirit.

"Our commitment to the future must be sealed with a mind-set of ownership, responsibility, and problem-solving," he said.

Guided by Chief Justice, Prof. Sam Rugege, President Kagame took the oath of office slightly before mid-day Friday.

He was handed instruments of office that included a copy of the Constitution, the National Flag, and the Coat of Arms.

Political scientist Prof. Jean de la Croix Nkurayija, a senior lecturer at the University of Rwanda, said the key element for yesterday's inauguration is the commitment of African leaders to support one of theirs who exhibits strong leadership.

"They came here to support him and to reaffirm Africa's resolve to shape her own destiny. What is clear now is that many African leaders feel that they have to work hand in hand; there is a clear commitment to advance South-South cooperation," he said of the presence of many African leaders at the event yesterday.

Kagame took the oath two weeks after he was overwhelmingly re-elected into the top office with over 98 per cent of the votes.

His new term runs until 2024.

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