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What happened to Stephen Kinzer?

Stephen Kinzer, a staunch supporter of Rwandan President Paul Kagame just published an opinion piece in the Guardian newspaper saying that the country’s authoritarian turn is risking its future.

Strange, because less than a month ago, Kinzer published a piece in the same paper, saying that « the authoritarian regime is the best thing that has happened to Rwanda since colonialists arrived a century ago. »

Just compare these two passages. In his December piece:

The Rwandan regime has given more people a greater chance to break out of extreme poverty than almost any regime in modern African history – and this after a horrific slaughter in 1994 from which many outsiders assumed Rwanda would never recover….My own experience tells me that people in Rwanda are happy with it, thrilled at their future prospects, and not angry that there is not a wide enough range of newspapers or political parties.

 The piece published yesterday:

President Kagame should accept the possibility that his judgment may not always be correct, and listen earnestly to Rwandans with different ideas. He still has the chance to enter history as one of the greatest modern African leaders. There is also the chance, however, that he will be remembered as another failed African big-man, a tragic figure who built the foundations of a spectacular future for his country, but saw his achievements collapse because he could not take his country from one-man rule toward democracy.

The motivation for his criticism, he says, are events of recent weeks, and in particular the opposition to the regime by Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa and three other former high-ranking members of the RPF. But the « Rwanda Briefing » he mentions was published in August last year, and the assassination attempt against Gen. Kayumba was in June. Yes, over the last month we have seen the sentencing in absentia of those four former officials, as well as an alliance being forged between Kayumba’s Rwandan National Congress and Victoire Ingabire’s FDU-Inkingi.

But Kinzer’s about face is surprising.

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