Tony Blair’s relationship with the Rwandan regime and its president, Paul Kagame, must remain secret because Blair is a “former prime minister,” according to the Times, after the Foreign Office rejected its Freedom of Information request.
The UK government refused to release information about Blair’s involvement with Rwanda and his Africa Governance Initiative charity when probed by Times journalists.
After a five-month delay – much longer than the usual 20 day waiting period – officials refused to disclose any details of the relationship.
Officials told the Times, “Factors in favor of disclosure include the strong public interest in transparency and accountability, as well as interest in wider international relations and Tony Blair’s work in Rwanda.”
The Foreign Office, however, decided to withhold the disclosure of communications and sensitive commercial information to avoid an impact on Britain’s international relations.
Kagame, a former warlord and Tutsi who led the forces that ended the 1994 genocide, became president in 2000.
Blair’s and Kagame’s relationship has been under increasing scrutiny following harsh criticism of the Rwandan regime.
Amnesty International has accused Kagame of human rights abuses, including unlawful detentions, restricting freedom of expression and jailing opposition politicians and journalists.
A UN report accused his forces of war crimes, including possible genocide, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.