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When Rwanda's Kagame Says No One Has the Right to Criticize Him...

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, May 16 2011

He's willing to enforce it. Over on the Independent, Rob Hastings writes up this weekend's "Twitter spat" between Rwandan President Paul Kagame and former Independent deputy editor Ian Birrell.

What set up the back-and-forth was a tweet from Birrell that linked to a column in the Financial Times. In it, the paper's Africa editor's reported on his lunch in London with the Rwandan president, during which, over a bowl of tomato and carrot soup, said Kagame, "I don’t think anybody out there in the media, UN, human rights organisations, has any moral right whatsoever to level any accusations against me or against Rwanda. Because, when it came to the problems facing Rwanda, and the Congo, they were all useless."

Tweeting out a link to the interview, Birrell added some pointed commentary: "No-one in media, UN or human rights groups has the moral right to criticise me, says despotic & deluded @PaulKagame."

Kagame is a fascinating historical figure, as a former guerilla leader during the days of the Rwandan genocide who became his country's president and leading statesman. Generally speaking, global public opinion never seems all that sure what to make of him. But Kagame, as a networked leader, isn't about to let the world go defining him without his participation.

Kagame tweeted back at Birrell, "@ianbirrell. Not you moral right! You give yourslf the right to abuse pple and judge them like you r the one to decide ..." And on it went from there.