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Paul Kagame takes oath of office for third term

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

Many African leaders attended the ceremony in the capital, Kigali. The longtime president had described the Aug. 4 election as "a formality" while campaigning

“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.”

Amnesty International had described a "climate of fear" ahead of the vote.

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.

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.

Mugiejor A

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