The full video of the Open Society Institute in Manhattan’s panel discussion on contemporary Rwanda is now up. Its a little more than one and a half hours in length and worth watching. The panel consisted of academics and journalists Howard French and Stephen Smith, the former Kagame confidant Theogene Rudasingwa, and, finally, Rona Peligal, deputy director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. Peligal acted as moderator.
The themes that run through the presentation are: conversations about Rwanda are driven by two impulses (guilt and fear); the continuities between Kagame and predecessor regimes in Rwanda; Kagame runs “a transformative authoritarian regime” (in Smith’s words); and that ethnicity is at the heart of state politics as well as that of exile. The panelists conceded that Kagame can take credit for rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 genocide, but some noted that ”Rwanda has always been a well organized country.”
Check out the outburst near the end of the panel by Tim Gallimore, former spokesperson for the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He was listed as “a discussant.” Gallimore, who is also a consultant to the Rwandan government, accuses the panel of “a double standard” when it comes to Kagame and that the debate was “laced with poisonous rhetorical questions” and “unsubstantiated charges.”