Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

Welcome to
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:

Monday, May 30, 2011

THERE are times when I find it easy to forget what a global medium Twitter is. That is until the abusive tweets from Rwanda start rolling in.

By Nic Christensen is on Twitter @nicchristensen

Last week's Twitterati referenced the Twitter spat between Ian Birrell (@IanBirrell ) and the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame). It also went so far as to suggest that President Kagame, who arguably had a questionable record on things like press freedom and human rights, was a "Third World despot".
A number of Rwandan Twitter users took offence and decided to let me know. Some users such as user Butamire (@butamire) simply sought to challenge Birrell's comments that their President was "despotic and deluded", by tweeting that Birrell "knows nothing". Others, however, wanted to express this more forcefully.
None more so than "PROUD RWANDAN" (@intarebatinya) who, over the space of 40 tweets, took issue with the right of anyone outside of Rwanda to understand that country's internal political dynamic.
As a journalist you become used to abuse but all week this user has been tweeting foreign users urging them to stop commenting on Rwandan affairs. For example, he told me: "Let's talk about kangaroos because u know nothing about Rwanda."
Now, it is well established that Rwanda's regime has an established policy of trying to shape international media coverage. Indeed, The Guardian reported last year the Kagame government had hired the British PR firm Racepoint to help change Western perceptions of the country.
The impact of this firm has already been felt in the coverage of Kagame (he is interviewed in Time magazine this week).
This foreign focus is likely also behind the President's decision to tweet, given only 4.5 per cent of his citizens have internet access.
It's worth asking if the Kagame regime or its supporters might also be trying to use Twitter to try to silence international dissent.
We often talk about how Twitter is helpful in opening discussions but we should also recognise that there will be those who will go online hoping to close down, or shout down, discussions that they might view as against their interests.

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