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Rwanda leader in rights abuse row on Twitter

Having faced pointed censure from the United Nations and Amnesty International during his decade-long rule of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame has had plenty of experience at learning how to deal with criticism.

The 53-year-old former guerrilla commander showed yesterday that he has not learnt how to roll with the punches, however, when he became embroiled in a heated argument with a British journalist on Twitter.

Having presumably been alerted by his smart phone that he had been described on the micro-blogging website as "despotic and deluded" by Ian Birrell, a former deputy editor of The Independent, Mr Kagame launched into an extraordinary series of 14 exclamation-filled tweets defending his rule. "You give yourslf 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," [sic] he wrote.

Mr Birrell responded by asking "why you think media, UN and human rights groups have no right to criticise you," adding: "I know of people living in fear of their lives for daring to criticise you. And with good reason..."

According to the UN, tens of thousands of Rwandans were killed by Mr Kagame's forces in the 1990s, while political opponents and journalists still face imprisonment or death.