, RWANDA, Sep 6 – Rwanda\’s President Paul Kagame hit back Monday at his international critics, using his inauguration for a second term to insist that Africa needed no lessons from the wider world.
Kagame told a crowd of around 40,000 packed into Kigali\’s main stadium that western powers "criticise the good things we do and try to hold us responsible for the bad things they do".
"Africans are capable of forging their own destiny; we don\’t need the lessons that we\’re always being given," he said, hitting back at a barrage of criticism from the West and human rights groups over accusations that he brutally crushed dissent in the run up to his landslide election triumph.
"We can develop ourselves — we will achieve food security, develop trade and investment and build infrastructure," assured the 52-year old former rebel, whose attempts to modernise his country has drawn praise from economists.
Kagame swept the August 9 election with 93 percent of the vote, after a tense preamble over which his government was criticised for excluding any real opposition.
At the ceremony attended by around a dozen African heads of state, Kagame took the oath of office from the president of the Supreme Court, Alyosia Cyanzayire.
Kagame supporters dressed in blue and yellow were seated in the stands in a pattern that spelled his name against a background of white T-shirts.
Thousands who could not gain access to the stadium followed the event on giant screens outside.
Among the attending dignitaries was President Joseph Kabila, whose Democratic Republic of Congo is the focus of a leaked UN report alleging that the Rwandan army committed widespread atrocities, possibly amounting to genocide, there between 1996-98.
Kigali rejected the charges and threatened to withdraw its peacekeeping troops from Sudan if the UN goes ahead and publishes the report.
The UN human rights chief on Thursday said she would delay publication of the report to give the states concerned time to comment and the opportunity to have their comments published alongside the report.
Although he is embarking on a second term in office, Kagame has effectively controlled Rwanda since his rebel force ended the country\’s 1994 genocide. He took part in the first post-genocide government as vice-president and defence minister.
Having been elected president by parliament in 2000, he won presidential elections in 2003, before cruising to a second term last month.
Other heads of state present included Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Francois Bozize of Central African Republic, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, and Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin.
Delegations from Algeria, Uganda, Swaziland and the African Union were also at the stadium.
Municipal workers have been cleaning and decorating the streets of the capital for several days, repainting kerbstones and planting extra palm trees.
Some businesses in the city\’s main street have painted their railings and plant pots in the national colours of blue, yellow and green.