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Rwanda election: Security situation shaky ahead of August vote

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Sergio Barrenechea/AP

(Read caption) CENTER OF CONTROVERSY: Rwandan President Paul Kagame spoke during the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group meeting in Madrid that he co-chaired last week with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain. Mr. Kagame has been lauded for his pro-business policies, but heavily criticized - especially ahead of the Rwanda election - for his authoritarian tendencies.

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"The United Nations has demanded a full investigation into allegations of politically motivated killings of opposition figures in Rwanda in the run-up to the country's election next month.

"The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon demanded the inquiry in a meeting with Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, after a series of attacks on figures unpopular with the regime in Rwanda and in several other African states."

That's from Peter Beaumont, who had two pieces on the increasingly worrying situation in Rwanda in Sunday's Observer.

The second piece focuses specifically on Kagame's public image:

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"But Kagame has never lived up to the breathless hype. Not Blair's, who described him as a "visionary leader". Not Bill Clinton's either, who last year handed him a global citizenship award for freeing his people's minds. Nor from his other gushing British fan, the former international development secretary, Clare Short, who had a blind spot over Kagame's failings, once describing him as 'a sweetie.'

"The real question is not whether Kagame is as marvelous as his supporters claim, but whether he's as sinister as his fiercest critics charge."

The comments on the second piece are particularly entertaining.

I never get tired of the immediate response from Kagame's loyal web-watchers, which, while almost always failing to actually refute a single point, tend to be hysterical rants about racism, neo-colonialism, a "desire for Rwanda to fail," and a bunch of other attempts at distracting the global public from the regime's flaws.

As for what's going on in Rwanda, it's increasingly clear that divides within the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) over the party's future (particularly regarding the question of how long Kagame gets to keep running the show and controlling the party's finances) are likely driving much of the targeted violence we've seen of late.

The situation is likely to get worse leading up to the August 9 election. Stay safe, friends in Rwanda.

--- Laura Seay blogs at Texas in Africa.

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