Mayor Eric Adams took a friendly meeting with controversial Rwandan President Paul Kagame at City Hall on Friday and warmly embraced the African leader on social media.
“Honored to host my friend President @PaulKagame of Rwanda at City Hall to discuss economic development, public safety and accessible broadband technology,” Adams said in a tweet Saturday.
Kagame, who was on hand for the United Nations General Assembly this week, also crowed online about the face-to-face.
“This afternoon in New York, President Kagame met with Mayor Eric Adams of New York City. They discussed opportunities for partnerships as well as Rwanda’s economic growth and innovative homegrown solutions including Umuganda and Car Free Day,” read Kagame’s official Instagram account which posted several smiling photos of the two leaders. Kagame’s Twitter account also touted the meet and greet.
Kagame, who has ruled Rwanda since 2000, is a polarizing figure who has faced widespread criticism for his authoritarian leadership style. His 2017 reelection — in which he won 99% of the vote — was widely dismissed as rigged by international observers.
Critics of Kagame have also frequently turned up dead. In 2021, Abdallah Seif Bamporiki, a leading opposition figure, was shot dead in South Africa where he had been living in exile. Revocant Karemangingo, another outspoken critic of Kagame, was killed in a spray of bullets outside his home in Mozambique that same year, DW reported.
“Rwandans who have dared raise their voices or challenge the status quo have been arrested, forcibly disappeared, or killed,” Ida Sawyer, then-Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said after Kagame’s 2017 reelection.
Reps for Adams brushed aside the controversy
“New York City is an international city and as the leader of the host city to the United Nations, Mayor Adams is meeting with a number of world leaders as we go into UNGA week,” said spokesman Fabien Levy.