3:10 pm - Friday December 14, 2018

Rwandan imprisoned opposition leader to go on trial as another walks free — for now

Written by | September 26, 2018 | 0

Rwandan President Paul Kagame shocked many in his country and around the world last week when he granted more than 2,000 prisoners an unexpected pardon.

But while the President was announcing the move in parliament to “rehabilitate our citizens,” Diane Rwigara, the sole female challenger in last year’s election that Kagame won with almost 99% of the vote, languished in jail, awaiting her fate in court.

Rwigara, a 37-year-old accountant and fierce critic of Kagame, launched her election bid three months ahead of the August 2017 presidential vote.

Shortly after she began her presidential campaign,Rwigara was disqualified by electoral authorities. They claimed she exaggerated the number of signatures needed to qualify and accused her of submitting the names of dead people, charges Rwigara denies.

Her supporters say all the charges are politically motivated and highlight a lack of political and social freedoms under Kagame.

As Rwigara prepares to hear her fate in court on Monday, veteran watchers of Rwandan politics say she could follow in the footsteps of a previous opposition politician who dared to challenge Kagame.

Victoire Ingabire, the 49-year-old leader of the opposition FDU-Inkingi party, was one of the 2,140 prisoners released last Saturday after serving eight years of her 15-year sentence.

In 2010 Ingabire returned to Rwanda from the Netherlands, where she was living in exile, to contest the presidential election. But she soon ran into problems with the government over comments she made in relation to the country’s 1994 genocide and was arrested on charges that included collaborating with a terrorist organization and “genocide ideology.” She was initially handed an eight-year prison sentence that was later extended to 15 years.

Source: cnn.com


Filed in: Africa, General News, Politics

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