Friday, September 17, 2010

Kagame plays a straight bat

September 16, 2010

Off to the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London to see the Rwandan president Paul Kagame give a guest lecture. The topic that Mr Kagame had chosen to talk about was his favourite: “The Challenges of Nation-Building in Africa: The case of Rwanda”. But what a packed room really wanted to hear was his response to the draft UN report on war crimes in Congo leaked a few weeks ago that virtually accuses his forces of committing genocide there in the late 1990s. Did he mention the burning subject of the moment in his 20-minute speech? Not at all. He just waited for the question and answer session, and then smoothly dismissed the allegations; “baseless” and “absurd”, he said.

As this was one of the first times that he has appeared in front of a critical Western audience since the UN report made headlines around the world, Mr Kagame’s high-handed dismissal of it was either very smart or very dumb—and I can’t quite decide which.