Deal is an own goal

Published by The Sun (11th June, 2018)

Paul Kagame is one of the world’s most ruthless dictators.

He runs a nasty one-party state in Rwanda that crushes dissent and freedom, stirs up conflict in neighbouring nations and sends hit squads abroad to murder his enemies – even in Britain.

He is also an Arsenal fan.

So he has splashed out £30m to promote his tiny east African nation on their sleeves, ensuring access to a plush box at the Emirates and to star players.

Never mind hard-pressed British taxpayers poured £64m last year into his country – about twice the levels sent per capita to most other places in the region.

Nor indeed, that almost one third of children are starving in a poverty-ravaged nation.

Endorsing such a repellent regime on their red-and-white shirts an amazing own goal by Arsenal. It is also a rare defensive error by Kagame. As one marketing expert said, advertising in papers and on social media would have been far more effective at one-tenth of the price.

Instead this splurge spotlights his contempt for Western donors, who pour cash into his pocket regardless of all his misdeeds and murder. Naive politicians from London and Washington are so dazzled by the lack of plastic bags on Kigali streets and high number of female parliamentarians they miss the bloodstains, the brutality and the butchery.

The lanky African leader milked Western sympathy for his nation’s suffering in the 1994 genocide – along with the desperate search to find an aid success story as vast sums are frittered away by countries such as Britain each year.

One brave woman, Diane Rigwira, went back to Rwanda to contest the presidency last year, claiming her wealthy businessman father was assassinated. Nude pictures were leaked online, she was barred from standing in the election and, – along with other family members – now faces jail.

At least she is still alive, unlike many of his foes.

Arsenal fans visiting Rwanda, of course, would miss such hideous realities.

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