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Monday, 17 April, 2000, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Kagame elected Rwandan president
Rwandan Vice President Paul Kagame
Kagame has long been seen as very influential
Paul Kagame, the man long seen as wielding the real power in Rwanda, has been elected president in a vote by ministers and members of parliament.

State radio said Major General Kagame received 81 of the 86 votes cast.

Mr Kagame, who is also chairman of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), had been acting as president since the resignation of President Pasteur Bizimungu two weeks ago.

Mr Kagame's appointment as president makes him the first member of Rwanda's Tutsi minority to hold the position.

The only other candidate for the presidency was RPF secretary general Charles Murigande.

Before 1994, Mr Kagame led the RPF in its guerrilla war against the former Hutu-dominated government of Juvenal Habyarimana.

Mixed feelings

The RPF took power following the genocide of 1994, with Mr Bizimungu - a Hutu moderate - as president.

Although Mr Kagame served as deputy president and defence minister under Mr Bizimungu, he was widely acknowledged as the most important figure in Rwandan politics.

A quietly-spoken military man, he is thought to have had mixed feelings about emerging as a formal head of state.

Mr Bizimungu's resignation was the culmination of a turbulent period in Rwandan politics, with both the prime minister and the president resigning and the former Speaker of Parliament fleeing the country since the beginning of the year.

However, government officials have emphasised that there is no internal crisis.

They say the speed and neatness with which the presidency issue has been handled offer proof of Rwanda's political maturity only six years after the genocide.

But the RPF's critics, including some of its former Tutsi sympathisers, say the changes at the top have been carefully stage-managed and show the RPF's growing elitism and secrecy, rather than its commitment to good governance.

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17 Apr 00 | Africa
Kagame wins a one-horse race
24 Mar 00 | Media reports
Blast from Kinshasa greets Kagame
07 Apr 00 | Africa
Belgian apology to Rwanda
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