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Use brains - not bullets, commander tells Rwandans

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Rwandans must set aside ethnic differences and use their brains - not bullets - to rebuild the nation devastated by genocide in 1994, their top army commander said Saturday.

Vice President Paul Kagame, who is also defense minister, told Rwandans that the army can control a Hutu insurgency in the northwest that has killed thousands in the past 18 months.Kagame addressed a crowd of 35,000 at Kigali's Amahoro soccer stadium, where Rwandans marked the fourth anniversary of the victory of Tutsi soldiers he led to power in 1994. The victory ended the Hutu government-orchestrated slaughter of more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Dressed in army fatigues, Kagame reviewed Rwandan Patriotic Army units who paraded before foreign diplomats, officials and army commanders from neighboring countries.

"Many people shed blood on the road to liberation," he said in Kinyarwanda, the Rwandan national language. "But now, there must be other ways of finding peace and developing the country other than sacrificing lives."

In a conciliatory tone, he said it was not the lack of intelligence but a lack of will that was holding Rwanda back and said ethnic differences that had led to violence should be forgotten for the benefit of the country.

Rwanda must address several problems, including accommodating Hutu and Tutsi refugees, stopping rebel attacks in northwestern Rwanda and transforming the economy, Kagame said.

President Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, was absent from the ceremony, and instead addressed the nation in a recorded radio broadcast. There was no immediate explanation for his absence.