, KIGALI, Jan 10 – Rwanda’s presidency on Friday dismissed rumours that the country’s leader Paul Kagame was dead.
The denial came amid reports of street celebrations in the Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma, situated on the border with Rwanda, although it was not immediately clear what sparked the celebrations.
“That is completely wrong,” an official from President Kagame’s office told AFP of the rumours.
“The president is currently meeting US students as part of his routine audiences. You are free to come and attend the audience and meet him as well,” the official said.
A close aide to Kagame, Yolande Makolo, also dismissed the rumours, saying on Twitter that they were “utter nonsense”.
Kagame, 56, became the de-facto leader of Rwanda in 1994, when his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebel army routed genocidal forces who had killed at least 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis.
His admirers hail him as an economic visionary, but he is viewed by critics as a despot who crushes all opposition.
He has also come in for fierce criticism for Rwanda’s alleged support for rebel groups operating in the Goma region in the east of the DRC.
Rwanda has intervened in two separate conflicts in the DRC, sending troops into the former Zaire in 1996 and in 1998.