Among the heads of state who gather for the United Nations General Assembly every September, the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame has always glittered a little brighter, appearing to have more friends and admirers in New York than any other head of state from a tiny African country.
Kagame has denounced the report as fabrications from the very institution that stood aside and let the Rwandan genocide happen back in 1994. He's also threatening to pull Rwandan peacekeepers, among the best-trained in Africa, out of Darfur. The UN Secretary-General paid an emergency visit to Kigali to try to repair the damage, and has delayed formal publication of the report until October 1, when the General Assembly will be safely over and done with.
But that won't stop Kagame from having to face awkward questions while he's in town. The UN report accuses the Rwandan army of systematically murdering tens of thousands of Hutu civilians in Congo following its invasion of Congo in 1996.
Meanwhile, back in Rwanda, tens of thousands of civilians are estimated to have been murdered by Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front in its march to power in 1994. Kagame's government has thwarted any attempt by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, set up by the UN Security Council to prosecute the crimes of 1994, to prosecute officials of the RPF.
Then there's the steady crushing of political dissent. The New York Times has doggedly reported on the lopsided election in August 2010 that gave Kagame 93 percent of the vote; the exclusion of opposition parties from the race; the shooting of a Rwandan general who has broken with Kagame in broad daylight in South Africa; the fatal shooting of an independent journalist reporting on the South African incident; the grisly murder of an opposition politician; the closure of two opposition newspapers.
Kagame supporters have dismissed the UN report as unscientific. As Steve Terrill wrote on the Paul Kagame Fan Club website: "They required only two sources for each event cited in the report, regardless of the gravity of the incident. That’s the same requirement a local newspaper reporter has and is a far cry from the rules of evidence born by prosecutors and criminal investigators."
Paul Kagame(Simon Maina, AFP / Getty Images)
In the past, his audiences with the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have brought him praise as a visionary, a man who brought economic rationality to Africa, and of course most of all, the man who stopped the genocide in Rwanda.