Rwanda President Sworn In for Third Term After Landslide Victory

(Bloomberg) -- Rwandan President Paul Kagame was sworn in for a third term after a landslide victory in the East African nation’s elections earlier this month that critics said took place amid a crackdown on his political opponents.

Kagame received almost 99 percent of ballots in the Aug. 4 vote, extending his 17-year rule after a 2015 referendum backed amending the constitution to remove a two-term limit. The 59-year-old took the oath of office Friday in the capital, Kigali.

Rwanda President Sworn In for Third Term After Landslide Victory

“The next seven years will be very important for our country,” Kagame said. “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.”

Kagame led a rebel army that ended a 1994 genocide in which about 800,000 people died, and he’s been credited with turning Rwanda’s economy into one of Africa’s top performers by cutting red tape and improving infrastructure. Detractors such as Amnesty International say civil liberties have been cast aside and the vote’s credibility compromised by a violent clampdown on dissenting voices. Rwandan authorities reject the criticisms.

Landlocked Rwanda’s economy has expanded an average of more than 7 percent a year since Kagame took office in 2000, and is expected to grow 6.1 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Its biggest industries and sources of foreign exchange are tea, coffee, tourism and mining.

In its election manifesto, the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front pledged to create jobs, partner with private companies to encourage new industry, build about 3,800 kilometers (2,361 miles) of roads and increase mineral exploration.