|"Paul Kagame has faced charges that his regime is increasingly authoritarian after the opposition was effectively barred from challenging him in August's presidential election." (Uwe Anspach/EPA)|
By Chris McGreal
The Guardian, December 31, 2010
"Tony Blair has defended his close personal and working relationship with one of Africa's most controversial leaders, Rwanda's Paul Kagame, even as foreign governments distance themselves over accusations of war crimes and the suppression of political opposition. Blair has described Rwanda's president as a 'visionary leader' and a friend after making the central African country the focus of the work of his charity, the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), to turn around the continent's fortunes. ... But the relationship has come under increasing scrutiny following a UN report that accused Kagame's forces of war crimes, including possibly genocide, in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo, and charges that the Rwandan government is increasingly authoritarian after the opposition was effectively barred from challenging Kagame in August's presidential election. The White House has criticised Kagame for the suppression of political activity and made clear that it does not regard Rwanda as democratic. But Blair said allowances have to be made for the consequences of the 1994 genocide of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and suggested that Kagame's economic record outweighed other concerns. ...