Washington, DC – At IRI today, Paul Rusesabagina, who was portrayed by Don Cheadle in the award-winning film “Hotel Rwanda,” offered his support for the Liberian elections, urging the Liberian people to vote in tomorrow’s presidential runoff election.

During his remarks, Rusesabagina said, “The Liberian election is a critical demonstration of hope not only to Liberians but to all Africans.  I urge Liberians to vote and to accept the democratic outcome peacefully no matter who wins,” said Rusesabagina.

Rusesabagina will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush on November 9, 2005, for his courage to protect Tutsi refugees during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and his work to assist African nations in conflict. Rusesabagina, then-manager of the Hotel des Mille Collenes in Rwanda, had risked his life and used the hotel to shelter as many as 1,200 refugees in 1994.

During his introduction of Paul Rusesabagina, Lorne Craner, President of IRI, praised Rusesabagina for taking personal risks to save lives during the Rwandan genocide, and for his work to promote human rights and democracy.  “Our guest has traveled the world on behalf of and to advance the cause of human rights and democracy.  It is a great pleasure to meet a hero today,” said Craner.

Rusesabagina also discussed the importance of IRI programs in Africa, saying, “IRI’s work in countries to promote democracy helps to prevent genocides like in Rwanda and civil wars that have brought destruction to so many lives. ” Rusesabagina added, “IRI’s presence in Liberia as they elect their new president will help bring confidence to the election process.  Through this presidential election, my hope is that Liberians will be able to move beyond their war-torn past, and begin a bright future towards democratic stability.”

IRI will monitor the November 8, 2005, presidential runoff election in Liberia.  Following the voting, IRI will issue a statement on the preliminary findings of the delegation.

Rusesabagina’s book of memoirs, “An Ordinary Man,” will be published in April 2006 to tell the untold stories of genocide atrocities.

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