Players: British Journalist Ian Birrell; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.
Opening Serve: Birrell commented on a Financial Times interview with the Rwandan President in which Kagame said, "I don't think anybody out there in the media, UN, human rights organizations, has any moral right whatsoever to level any accusations against me or Rwanda. Because when it came to the problems facing Rwanda, and the Congo, they were all useless." Birrell referred to this comment on Twitter, calling Kagame "despotic & deluded."
Return Volley: To Birrell's surprise, the Rwandan leader actually responded to his tweet, exclaiming via his own Twitter feed, "Not you either...no moral right! You give yourself the right to abuse pple and judge them like you r the one to decide...and determine universally what's right or wrong and what shd be believed or not!!! Wrong u r...u have no such right.." Kagame continued, insisting, "Ask Rwandans they will tell u I am not what u call me and I am sure they r not what you think they are...!", that "You have no basis for your comments and you don't kno what you r talking about me or Rw. I will only hold all that in contempt!" and "Africa-Rw- will need Africans to work in the lead n in concert with others globally who r genuine to put things right...not the likes of you who just pretend...!"
Birrell pushed back. "Fail to see why you think I have no moral right to offer criticism and opinions. Pls explain further," he wrote. To which Kagame replied: "You did not offer any explanation yourself why you would refer to me as despotic n deluded...did you just want pple to believe it?" And round and round the conversation went, with Birrell continuing to press Kagame on why he doesn't deserve an opinion on his leadership, pointing out the Rwandan government's poor human rights record and its punishment of the press and other critics, and Kagame simply insisting that Birrell's comments were untrue, unwarranted and insulting.