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Kagame’s inauguration excites, attracts 20 heads of state

Rwanda President Paul Kagame during his inaugural speech at Amahoro National Stadium on Aug 18.

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President Paul Kagame on Aug.18 pledged to work for Rwandans with pride and honour as he made his inauguration speech at Amahoro National Stadium in the country’s capital, Kigali.

The major highlight of the inauguration, which came 14 days after Kagame won the Aug.4 polls with nearly 99 percent, was that over 19 heads of states mostly from the African continent attended.

“Today is a day of celebration and a day to thank each of you,” President Kagame said during his inauguration speech, “The presence of so many brothers & sisters from around Africa honours our nation deeply and gives us strength. We thank you. Africa has been with Rwanda when we needed you most.”

Among the Africans leaders who attended was Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who doubles as the chairman for the East African Community; Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyata, South Sudan’s Salva Kiir, Namibia’s Hage Geingob, Gabon’s Ali Bongo Ondimba, the acting President of Nigeria, Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou, CAR’s Faustin Archange Touadera, among others.

The others included; Brahim Ghali of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of Niger, President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, Macky Sall of Senegal, Sasou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo and Hage Gottfried Geingob of Namibia.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat and former Botswana President Festus Mogae also attended. The Tanzanian President Pombe Magufuli was represented by former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa, who came in the presidential chopper.

Kagame used the opportunity to thank Africa for standing with Rwanda throughout its trying times.

“Nothing gives our people greater pride than contributing together with you to the greatness of our continent,” he said, “Standing alongside us are friends of Rwanda who have always kept our country in their hearts and worked hard to advance it.”

The overwhelming attendance of African leaders was a major acknowledgment of Kagame’s pivotal role in turning Rwanda into a major player on the continent.

Uganda’s President Museveni appeared to confirm that when he posted on his Twitter account that Rwanda has over the past two decades rebuilt itself into a “stable nation”, registering strong economic growth and development adding that he looked forward to making bilateral ties between the two countries even stronger.

“Rwanda is now a key player on the regional, continental and global arena, with commendable engagements within the EAC and the African Union,” reads Museveni’s statement.

Kenya’s Uhuru said his visit to Rwanda was geared towards strengthening the strong ties and strategic partnership that exist between our two nations– especially infrastructure development projects like the Northern Corridor Integrated Projects.

Apart from African leaders, Kagame also recognized the contribution of his two contenders in the race– opposition party leader Frank Habineza and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana, who shared the remaining one percent of the vote in the elections.

Kagame said that by bringing their message directly to citizens, together, they created a positive environment where no vote was cast against anyone but rather all cast for.

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