Dear Mr. Rwandan President: ‘What do you say to those who think your methods are dictatorial?’

The World
Paul Kagame's government has been accused of the assassination of political opponents and restricting free and fair elections.

With some politicians, it can be difficult for ordinary people to get an answer to a simple question. Not in Rwanda, apparently.

Earlier this month, British tourist Wendy Murphy was visiting Rwanda when she became curious about numerous reports of political oppression under President Paul Kagame.

So, she tweeted @PaulKagame: "We are very impressed with your country — What do you say to those who think your methods are dictatorial?"

And a few hours later, the President answered directly.

The Kagame government has been accused of organizing the assassination of political opponents. Amnesty International has also said that political repression is so widespread that "[Rwandan] citizens [do] not have the ability to change their government through free and fair elections."

The Twitter exchange was picked up in the local Rwandan press, and Murphy and her husband soon found themselves greeted by members of parliament during their tour and inundated with patriotic messages from Rwandans.

Murphy said those meetings made a profound and positive impression her.

“Right from day one it was just a feeling of just being extremely impressed, moved with the beauty and the warmth of the people," she said. "We were very, very surprised to get a reply. Shocked, surprised, pleased.”

Murphy also said that criticisms of the government were not something she felt qualified to comment on, but she was more than qualified to endorse tourism to the country: “Rwanda is our fascination, we love this country, it was beautiful."

Are you with The World?

The story you just read is available to read for free because thousands of listeners and readers like you generously support our nonprofit newsroom. Every day, the reporters and producers at The World are hard at work bringing you human-centered news from across the globe. But we can’t do it without you: We need your support to ensure we can continue this work for another year.

When you make a gift of $10 or more a month, we’ll invite you to a virtual behind-the-scenes tour of our newsroom to thank you for being with The World.