Rwanda Information Portal

Posts from — May 2011

Rwandan exiles warned of assassination threat by London police | World news | The Guardian

Rwandan exiles warned of assassination threat by London police

Two dissidents living in London told that Rwandan government poses imminent risk to their lives

Rwandan exiles warned about threats to their lives may have been targeted because of criticisms made of President Paul Kagame

The Metropolitan police have warned two Rwandan exiles living in London that they face an “imminent threat” of assassination at the hands of the Rwandan government.

The dissidents received letters within hours of one another which advised them to take extra steps to increase their safety and raised the possibility of them leaving the country, the Times reported.

“Reliable intelligence states that the Rwandan government poses an imminent threat to your life,” the warning letters read. “The threat could come in any form. You should be aware of other high-profile cases where action such as this has been conducted in the past. Conventional and unconventional means have been used.”

One of the men, Rene Mugenzi, 35, stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate for Greenwich council, in south-east London, and now runs a social enterprise which aims to help disadvantaged communities. He may have been targeted because of comments he made about the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, in March when asked on a BBC programme about the prospect of the Arab spring uprisings spreading to his homeland. He replied that criticisms of Kagame suggested that he was “a despot who doesn’t tolerate any form of opposition; that under his leadership, Rwanda has become a dangerous place for those who publicly disagree with him or his ruling party”.

Mugenzi told the Independent: “How can it be that in Britain, a foreign government can be allowed to threaten the life of a person? Every time I go outside, I am looking over my shoulder, wondering if there is an assassin around the corner.”

The other recipient of the warning letter was Jonathan Musonera, a former officer in the army of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front. He is one of several exiled military officers behind the founding of the Rwanda National Congress, a new political party that earlier this month called on the Rwandan president to stand down “if he cannot stop killing, jailing and exiling innocent citizens”. The group recently held a meeting in London. Musonera told the Independent he was “terribly scared. We know what the Rwandan government can do.”

A Rwandan suspected of being part of the assassination threat was stopped at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone, Kent, last week, according to the Times. It said the man, a naturalised Belgian aged 43, left after being questioned by police.

Western governments have praised Kagame for his efforts in transforming Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, with Britain committing £83m a year until 2015 to help rebuild the country. But political violence and suppression in Rwanda have shaken faith in Kagame.

Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, another founder member of the Rwanda National Congress and former head of Rwandan intelligence, was the subject of a failed assassination attempt in South Africa in June, last year.

The Independent reported last month that MI5 had warned the Rwandan high commissioner to London, who attended the royal wedding, to halt an alleged campaign of harassment against critics of Kagame living in the UK or face a cut in British aid.

A Rwandan government spokesman said the allegations contained within the warning letters were “without foundation. The government of Rwanda does not threaten the lives of its citizens, wherever they live,” he said. “The Metropolitan police have not approached us with evidence of these allegations but we are ready as always to work with them to ensure that nobody, be they Rwandan or not, is the victim of violence on British soil.”

via Rwandan exiles warned of assassination threat by London police | World news | The Guardian.

May 20, 2011   No Comments

British Police Warn Rwandan Dissidents of Threat From Their Government

Here is an article published by The New York Times about Rwanda’s most recent plans to murder dissidents:

British Police Warn Rwandan Dissidents of Threat

By JOSH KRON and JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

KAMPALA, Uganda — The British police have warned two outspoken Rwandan dissidents living in London that their lives are in danger because the Rwandan government may be plotting to kill them, according to British officials and documents.

Musonera Warning letter by UK Police

Threat to life warning notice by UK Police

In hand-delivered letters dated May 12, the Metropolitan Police Service warned the dissidents that the threat on their lives “could come in any form” and that “unconventional means” had been used before.

“Reliable intelligence states that the Rwandan government poses an imminent threat to your life,” the warning letters read. They added, “Although the Metropolitan Police Service will take what steps it can to minimize the risk, the police cannot protect you from this threat on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis.”

British officials confirmed the documents’ authenticity on Thursday.

Human rights groups have increasingly criticized the Rwandan government as being repressive and intolerant of any dissent, and several Rwandan dissidents living abroad have been mysteriously killed.

Last year, a former Rwandan general who had broken with the government was shot in South Africa, and assailants later tried to kill him while he was recovering in the hospital. Western diplomats contended that was evidence of a government plot to kill him.

The Rwandan government has rejected such accusations, including any threats in London.

“The government of Rwanda does not threaten the lives of its citizens wherever they live,” it said in a statement. “The Metropolitan Police have not approached us with evidence of allegations, but we are ready, as always, to work with them to ensure that nobody, be they Rwandan or not, is the victim of violence on British soil.”

The form letters, signed by a member of the Metropolitan Police Service, did not vouch for the accuracy of the threat but said it came from a source whose account the police had “no reason to disbelieve.”

One of the recipients of the warning, Rene Claudel Mugenzi, has been actively working with Rwandan opposition groups in London and said he was contacted by the British police late on May 12. “They said it was important,” Mr. Mugenzi said, “that I should not leave home.”

Mr. Mugenzi, 35, said he was aware that the Rwandan government did not appreciate his political views. But when two police officers showed up at his door in east London around 10:30 p.m. and told him and his wife of a threat to his life, he said he was speechless.

“I did not think they could think to kill me here in the U.K.,” he said.

Mr. Mugenzi says that in March he asked a pointed question to Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, during a BBC call-in show about whether Mr. Kagame believed an Egypt-style revolution could happen in Rwanda.

He also helped organize a recent meeting of exiled Rwandans in London. The Rwandan government has accused many opposition officials of working with a rebel group in eastern Congo that has been classified as a terrorist group by the United States and linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Mr. Mugenzi, who says he holds British as well as Rwandan citizenship, also works as a director at the London Center for Social Impact. He ran with the Liberal Democrats in local London elections last year and lost.

He has been living in Britain since 1997 and has frequently criticized Rwanda’s government for rights abuses.

“Take such remedial action as you see fit to increase your own safety measures, e.g. house burglar alarms, change of daily routines, always walk with an associate,” said the warning letter. “It may even be that you decide that it is more appropriate for you to leave the area for the foreseeable future.”

He said he had no plans to leave, but he was not ruling it out.

The other recipient of the warning, Jonathan Musonera, said he was a former Rwandan Army captain who fled to Britain in 2001 after defecting while the army was fighting in Congo. He said he was subsequently tortured by the Rwandan government. Now a critic of the government, he said the British police visited his home about an hour before the visit to Mr. Mugenzi.

“They told me about the Rwandan government,” Mr. Musonera said, “that they put my life in danger and they were trying to kill me.”

Critics of the Rwandan government have been killed or have simply vanished. Seth Sendashonga, a former member of the governing party, was fatally shot in Kenya in 1998. Augustin Cyiza, a former vice president of Rwanda’s Supreme Court, disappeared and is believed to have been killed in 2003. Leonard Hitimana, an opposition politician, disappeared the same year.

A Rwandan journalist covering the apparent assassination attempt of the general in South Africa was shot dead the day his story was published. The shooting strained relations between South Africa and Rwanda, with South Africa recalling its ambassador in August.

Last month, The Independent, a British newspaper, reported that Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5, had warned Rwanda’s high commissioner in London that a harassment campaign against Rwandan dissidents must be stopped or more than $100 million in foreign aid to Rwanda could be cut.

The Rwandan government has repeatedly denied that it represses its citizens or has had a hand in any of the attacks on high-profile dissidents.

Josh Kron reported from Kampala, and Jeffrey Gettleman from Nairobi, Kenya.

A version of this article appeared in print on May 20, 2011, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: London Police Warn Rwandan Dissidents of Threat From Their Government.

[New York Times]

May 20, 2011   No Comments

UK Police reveal Rwanda Government’s plot to murder dissidents on British soil

Alarming news about ongoing Rwandan Government’s terrorist activities in the UK. Here a report published by The Independent this Friday 20th May:

Rwandan assassin ‘sent to kill dissidents in UK’

Met warns that Kagame regime may be plotting to kill two men

By Cahal Milmo

Rene Mugenzi, at home in south London: afraid for his life

Rene Mugenzi, at home in south London: afraid for his life - Photo: Susannah Ireland

The Rwandan government is masterminding an alleged assassination plot in Britain against dissidents critical of the east African country’s increasingly authoritarian regime, The Independent can reveal.

In a move which threatens to tip relations between London and one of its closest African allies into crisis, detectives from Scotland Yard last week visited two prominent Rwandans living in Britain, one of them a founder of a new opposition party, and warned them of “reliable intelligence” that the country’s government “poses an imminent threat to your life”.

The two men yesterday told of their shock and fear after being told to improve security at their homes, change their daily routines and that the “threat could come in any form”. Whitehall sources said last night that the movements of two Rwandans with diplomatic accreditation in Britain, who have travelled regularly between London and Kigali in the last nine months, are being closely monitored.

The Independent also understands that police are investigating claims that an individual implicated in the attempted murder in South Africa last year of a key opposition figure to the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, may have travelled to the UK.

Rene Mugenzi, 35, a survivor of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide who is a British citizen and now runs a London-based social exclusion think-tank, said: “I am bewildered that such a thing could be happening to me. I am not a political figure in Rwanda, I left when I was 17. How can it be that in Britain, a foreign government can be allowed to threaten the life of a person? Every time I go outside, I am looking over my shoulder, wondering if there is an assassin around the corner.”

The disclosure of the murder plot comes after an investigation by The Independent revealed last month that MI5 has warned the Rwandan High Commissioner to London to halt an alleged campaign of harassment against critics of Mr Kagame living in the UK.

But the Rwandan government’s activities against dissidents have increased dramatically recently. Last week police served a “Threats to life warning notice” on Mr Mugenzi and a second Rwandan, Jonathan Musonera, laying out the danger facing them.

Mr Musonera, a former member of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) army led by Mr Kagame which halted the genocide, is one of the founding members of the Rwanda National Conference (RNC), a new political party led by exiled military officers which poses a threat to the president.

In the aftermath of the genocide, which left around 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and many moderate members of the Hutu majority dead, the regime led by Mr Kagame was hailed for its rebuilding of the country. Britain last year welcomed Rwanda into the Commonwealth and became its largest aid donor to the tune of £83m a year.

But President Kagame is now charged with becoming increasingly authoritarian, intolerant of dissent and of silencing political opposition.

Evidence that schisms among Mr Kagame’s former comrades are leading to reprisals was strengthened last summer when a former head of Rwandan intelligence, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, who is also a founder of the RNC, was the subject of an assassination attempt in South Africa. Several of the suspected gunmen were Rwandan, including one individual who Rwandan opposition figures claim has travelled to London.

Mr Musonera, 46, who along with father-of-three Mr Mugenzi has been told that police cannot offer round-the-clock protection, said: “I am terribly scared. We know what the Rwandan government can do. Their killers are not bothered about observing the laws of the countries in which they carry out their activities.”

Sat in his home in south east London, Mr Mugenzi recalled how he had personally challenged Mr Kagame over claims of despotism in a BBC World Service phone-in this year. “I have no idea if my encounter with Mr Kagame is linked to the threat I now face,” he said. “But this is not how a civilised government should behave. No-one is challenging the terribleness of the genocide but if Rwanda becomes a country that cannot tolerate a variety of voices then how can it move on?”

The Foreign Office said the threat faced by Rwandans in Britain had been raised with the Kigali government. The Rwandan High Commissioner to the UK, Ernest Rwamucyo, said in a statement: “The government of Rwanda does not threaten the lives of its citizens wherever they live.”

[The Independent]

May 20, 2011   2 Comments

United States welcomes conviction by ICTR of Four Senior Rwandan Officers

U.S. Statement on ICTR Judgment Against Four Senior Rwandan Officers

This week, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) convicted and sentenced four senior Rwandan security officials for their role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide that killed over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Of those convicted, Augustin Bizimungu, a former Rwandan army chief, was one of the lead coordinators of the genocide. He was sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment.

The other three sentenced were Augustin Ndindiliyimana, François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Innocent Sagahutu. All held leadership positions in either the police or military forces during the genocide and were convicted of various war crimes, ranging from genocide to crimes against humanity.

The United States welcomes the ruling as an important step in providing justice and accountability for the Rwandan people and the international community. The conviction of Mr. Bizimungu, in particular, shows that even those at the highest levels of military leadership are not immune from prosecution in the face of such grave atrocities.

There are still 10 ICTR fugitives at-large and the United States urges all countries to continue their cooperation with the ICTR so that these fugitives can be expeditiously arrested and brought to justice.

SOURCE
US Department of State

[APO]

May 20, 2011   No Comments

ICTR sets free ex-Rwandan Gendarmerie chief of staff Ndindiliyimana

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of former chief of staff of Rwandan Gendarmerie, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, and sentenced army General Augustin Bizimungu to 30 years imprisonment for genocide.

Meanwhile, ex-commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, a member of the unit, jointly charged with the two generals, were ordered to remain behind bars for 20 years each after being convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Ndindiliyimana was released after a Trial Chamber sentenced him to time served since his arrest in Belgium on January 29, 2000 after finding his mitigating factors warranting.

“The Chamber has noted Ndindiliyimana’s limited command over the gendarmerie after April 6, 1994, his consistent support for the Arusha accords and peaceful resolution of conflict between the Rwandan government forces and the RPF and his opposition to the massacres in Rwanda,” presiding Judge Joseph Asoka de Silva said.

For other convicts, the judge said, would also receive credit for the time they served since their arrests. Bizimungu was arrested in Angola on August 2, 2002, while Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu were apprehended in France and Denmark, respectively, on February 15, 2000.

The two generals were convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for offenses perpetrated by military soldiers and gendarmes under their command in 1994.

In addition, Bizimungu was found to have made a speech in Mukingo Commune, calling for start of killing of Tutsis in Ruhengeri prefecture.

For Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu, the Chamber convicted them of crime against humanity and war crimes committed by their subordinates. The duo ordered the killing of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and failed to punish perpetrators involved in killing 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers, on April 7, 1994, the judgement added.

In his reaction, ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Jallow said they would study the judges reasoning in assessment of sentences imposed to each accused and decide whether they would appeal or not.

However, he said, “We are quite satisfied with the findings. The judgement is very important to all persons in position of leadership, especially military commanders. As clearly established, superiors will be held legally responsible for acts of their subordinates.”

Ndindiliyimana, on his part, expressed his happiness for being released after remaining in detention for 11 years. His lawyer, Christopher Black, joined his client for the happiness.

Defence Counsels Charles Taku and Fabien Segatwa, for Nzuwonemeye and Sagahutu, respectively, said they would appeal against the verdict.

[Hirondelle]

May 20, 2011   No Comments

Belgium , Rwanda sign €160M agreement

The Government of Belgium, yesterday, signed with their Rwandan counterpart, a new bilateral development cooperation framework worth €160 million.

A joint commission will guide Belgium development cooperation and interventions in Rwanda.

Dirk Achten of the Belgium Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasized that the new financial commitment meant a qualitative and significant step forward in the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

“We earmarked €55 million for the health sector, another €55 million for energy, €28 million for decentralization. The rest will support ongoing projects,” he said.

The Indicative Cooperation Programme 2011-2014 is the first Belgian development framework since the Rwanda government endorsed the Division of Labor development plan in July 2010.

The new arrangement restricts development partners to be active in at least three sectors each, to ensure aid effectiveness.

John Rwangombwa, the Minister of Finance, explained that relations with Belgium have always been positive as they continue to support Rwanda’s aid effectiveness agenda.

By aligning to the division of labour, he called them a ‘model’ Development Partner that others should emulate.

“The support promised to the energy, health and decentralization sectors will contribute towards sustainable development and improve dignified lives for all Rwandans,” Rwangombwa said.

Dr. Agnes Binangwaho, the Minister of Health and Rwanda’s Ambassador to Belgium, Robert Masozera, were among the dignitaries who witnessed the signing.

Rwanda is currently the second largest recipient of Belgian aid.

[New Times]

May 19, 2011   1 Comment

Ambassadors of Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Benin, Thailand, Portugal, Norway and Ghana present letters of accreditation to Rwandan General Paul Kagame

Kigali – It was an eventful day at Village Urugwiro yesterday, as eight ambassadors and high commissioners presented their letters of accreditation to President Paul Kagame.

They were the Ambassadors from Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Benin, the Kingdom of Thailand, Portugal, Norway and the High Commissioner of Ghana.

First to present credentials was Cuba’s Ambassador to Rwanda, Francesco Javier Viamontes Correa, who told reporters that he will embark on promoting bilateral co-operation between Rwanda and Cuba, especially in the areas of health and education.

“We want to share our knowledge, experience, solidarity with the government of Rwanda and I am impressed by the developments Rwanda has achieved in a short period of time,” he added.

Correa who has a permanent residence in Kampala, stated that there was a team 30 Cuban doctors who concluded their contracts in Rwanda in March and that his country was working on a new agreement to continue the programme.

The new North Korean envoy, Jong Thae Yang, said that he will strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the areas of agriculture, education and public health.

“I am impressed by Kigali, it’s one of the cleanliest cities I have ever seen in Africa,” noted Yang who resides in Kampala.

The Ghanaian High Commissioner, Kingsley Saka Abdul Karimu stressed that Ghana and Rwanda have enjoyed good bilateral relationship over the years.

“I am going to work with the government here to explore all avenues where we can improve economic cooperation,” said Karimu, who has a permanent residence in Nairobi.

The Kampala-based Iranian envoy, Ali Akbar Dabiran, said that he will embark on cementing bilateral cooperation between the two countries by bringing investors to Rwanda especially in the field of Agriculture.

[New Times]

May 19, 2011   1 Comment

Former Rwandan army chief Augustin Bizimungu gets 30 years for genocide

General Augustin Bizimungu

A war crimes tribunal for Rwanda sentenced the African nation’s former army chief to 30 years in prison Tuesday for his part in the 1994 genocide that killed 800,000 people.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) found Augustin Bizimungu guilty on six counts of genocide, crimes against humanity for murder, extermination and rape and violations of the Geneva Conventions.

During the genocide, soldiers and police under Bizimungu’s command directed the extermination of tens of thousands of Tutsi civilians who had taken refuge in churches, hospitals and schools, according to Human Rights Watch. Soldiers and police also ordered civilian officials and ordinary citizens to join in hunting down and killing the Tutsi and punished them if they failed to do so, the human rights monitoring group said.

Bizimungu fled to Angola, where he was arrested in 2002 and transferred to the tribunal. In 2004, he was charged with directly ordering brutal acts against Tutsis and failing to halt the acts of his subordinates. He denied the charges.

The tribunal also convicted two other senior officers — François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Innocent Sagahutu — who each got 20 years in prison.

The Rwandan genocide was triggered by the April 6, 1994, shooting down of a plane carrying the nation’s Hutu president.

May 19, 2011   No Comments

Rwandan UK resident sentenced to death by Kagame

General Kagame: despot who doesn't tolerate any form of opposition

General Kagame: despot who doesn’t tolerate any form of opposition

“How do you view the popular uprising in North Africa and  do you think the same could happen in Rwanda?” That is the question UK resident Rwandan Rene Mugenzi asked on 22 March to Rwandan President Paul Kagame on BBC. Introducing General Paul Kagame during that Have-Your-Say broadcast, BBC journalist Alex Jakana had said in Kagame’s presence:

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of voices criticising him and his government. Most of the accusations are along the lines that he is a despot who doesn’t tolerate any form of opposition; that under his leadership, Rwanda has become a dangerous place for those who publicly disagree with him or his ruling party.

Rene Mugenzi: warned for imminent threat to his life

Now, it appears that Mugenzi’s audacity has earned him an immediate death sentence!

Less than 2 months after that exchange on BBC, the Metropolitan Police informed Rene Mugenzi in writing that they had reliable intelligence showing that Rwandan Government poses an imminent threat to his life. The warning stated that the life threat could be carried out in any form, conventional or unconventional.

[wpaudio url=”http://rwandinfo.com/audio/20110322-kagame-democracy-wind-from-north-africa-cannot-reach-rwanda-bbc.mp3″ text=”Listen to the exchange between despotic President Kagame  and Rene Mugenzi, which valued him a death sentence.” dl=”0″]

Reliable intelligence states that Rwandan Government poses an imminent threat to your life. The threat could come in any form. You should be aware of other high profile cases where action such as this has been concluded in the past. Conventional and non-conventional means have been used.Metropolitan Police.

A similar warning has been issued to another Rwandan UK resident Jonathan Musonera.
Perhaps a reminder to those who still believe that Kagame cares about his people or even about his own reputation. They should remember his most common answer:  “I don’t care”.

Related:
Democracy wind from North Africa can not hit Rwanda, assures General Kagame

May 18, 2011   2 Comments

Rwandan President self-exposure is revelatory

by Ian Birrell

My twitterspat with Paul Kagame

Rwandan president Paul Kagame who has had a twitterspat with the journalist Ian Birrell. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The Rwandan president was revelatory in his self-exposure. Shame so few of his own people saw it.

Returning home from a Saturday afternoon walk with the dog, I did what has become almost a reflex action and checked Twitter. Bizarrely, there was the president of Rwanda having a go at me over disparaging comments I had made about an interview he gave that morning.

This was strange enough – not least since his missives to me were peppered with the sort of text abbreviations used by teenagers (such as “Wrong u r …”). Even stranger, we then traded tweets over human rights and repression in his central African nation, his foreign minister even joining the fray.

All slightly surreal. By the time I went to bed, the foreign minister still tweeting furiously, our twitterspat had gone global with supporters on both sides weighing in. Digital gurus speculated this was another Twitter first: a head of state directly engaging with a journalist.

The exchange raises various questions – not least whether you can really conduct a complex and highly-charged debate in 140 characters at a time. The answer is probably no, although the genius of the medium is how it draws attention to issues and amplifies them.

My electronic encounter with Paul Kagame began when I read an interview in which he said no one in the media, UN or human rights groups had the moral right to criticise him. I fired off a tweet, saying he was “despotic and deluded“, something borne out by such a vainglorious statement.

Not you either,” he tweeted back. “No moral right! You give yourslf the right to abuse ppl and judge them like you r the one to decide …

Thus began our beef. I repeatedly asked why no one had the moral right to question him, while raising issues of press freedom in a country where critical journalists are jailed or shot dead. He said I had no basis for my comments and told me I was insulting. His tweets were heavy with exclamation marks.

I linked Kagame to a damning human rights report on Rwanda. He replied that “we hold ourselves and each accountable to a high level and even deal with criticism honestly, openly and fairly …” I queried how there could be accountability when he had shut down papers and stopped rivals standing in elections, adding I knew of people living in fear of their lives for daring to criticise him.

Like many politicians, he ducked issues and answered questions with another question. Eventually, after more than a dozen tweets, he half-answered my central point, saying that while some in the UN, media and human rights groups liked to criticise, they were not without flaws themselves.

At least he made more sense then the juvenile nonsense spewing out from Louise Mushikiwabo, his foreign minister. She began by asking: “Wld u care 2 know what 11,000,000 Rwandans think of Paul Kagame b4 u spread ur formed opinion? 2 big a challenge 4 u?” An arrogant assumption, of course, to imply she spoke for all her people – and exactly the question that is impossible to answer in such a repressive autocracy. Her tweets became increasingly excitable; afterwards, she blocked people from looking at them.

Several observers criticised Kagame’s Twitter tantrum as exhibiting a lack of dignity. I disagree. It is admirable to see a leader engaging so personally with new means of communication – although it is telling there is no one he thinks worth following. And there is something rather splendid about a president so passionate about his country he confronts foreign critics in this manner.

The exchanges underlined the revolutionary nature of what is fast becoming the most important journalistic tool around. On Monday the Sky reporter Mark Stone blogged from Tripoli about his amazing use of Twitter to find a Dutch engineer and prove a bombed Nato target was a military bunker. In this new world, I was able to draw attention to Kagame’s original statement, he was able to respond and we could debate in real-time watched by thousands of people worldwide, scores joining in with links, opinions and comments.

Additionally, while the answers were terse, the immediacy and intimacy of the president’s responses offered a glimpse into his mind that might never have been exposed so starkly in more formal circumstances. His thin skin, his self-delusion, his evasiveness and above all his belief – echoed by his foreign minister – that the supposed saviour of Rwanda is above criticism.

It is just a shame that with just a tiny proportion of Rwandans online so few of his own people were able to see such revelatory self-exposure. For the irony of this exchange is that while Kagame is happy to engage with a foreign critic like me on Twitter, he refuses to permit such dissent from journalists and political rivals in his own country.

[Guardian]

May 18, 2011   2 Comments