Rwandan President Paul Kagame first came to international fame in 1987 as a senior figure in the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a Tutsi-led opposition group that eventually toppled the Rwandan government after the Hutu-led genocide of 1994. Kagame returned to Rwanda with the invading RPF in 1990 after 30 years living as a refugee and was elected president in 2000, though he has effectively controlled Rwanda since 1994. Kagame has been internationally hailed by everyone from Bill Clinton to Tony Blair for his professed efforts at reconciliation and redevelopment in the war-ravaged country. Under Kagame's leadership, Rwanda has reported steady GDP growth, regained calm and order after the genocide, increased the presence of women in government, and made laudable progress on prosecuting war criminals, though not from his own army.
But the president -- who plans to rule through 2017 -- has come under fire recently for his alleged sponsorship of Congolese rebels in a conflict across the border that is rapidly spiraling out of control. And as Anjan Sundaram argues, this is hardly the first time Kagame has fallen short of his image as a democratic modernizer. Here's a look at the mercurial leader's rise to power.
Before becoming president of Rwanda in 2000, Kagame served as vice president and defense minister. Above, he salutes in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, on July 20, 1994. On that day, the New York Times ran an article titled "The Three Victors Who Will Lead Rwanda," and described Kagame as "a reserved man who discloses little about himself" and "has in the past expressed no interest in a postwar political career."