TowerPostNews: Kagame Critic Diane Rwigara Acquitted

Nellie Chapman
December 8, 2018

Rwigara's case has drawn global attention as Kagame again faces pressure to give more space to critics in the tightly controlled East African country. I am continuing with my political journey. everything I talked about in the past has not been resolved.

Ms Rwigara's difficulties began when she declared her candidacy in Rwanda's 2017 presidential contest.

Ms Rwigara has repeatedly accused President Kagame of stifling dissent and criticised his party's unyielding grip on power since it assumed control after the country's civil war.

Diane Rwigara was facing charges of inciting insurrection against the government and forgery of electoral documents, on account of which she was disqualified from the presidential race in 2017.

US senators in recent days urged the Rwandan government to drop the charges against her.

We got her reaction to today's verdict.

Amnesty International welcomed the court's decision.

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Critics still see Ms Rwigara's arrest and detention, and the auctioning of her assets, as a continuation of a trend of intimidation against anyone who opposes the government.

Speaking to The Associated Press ahead of her court appearance, Rwigara remained defiant, saying no amount of pressure will silence her.

Her attempt to stand against Kagame in the country's last presidential poll in August previous year was blocked after she was accused of not submitting enough supporters' signatures and that some of those she submitted were forged. "I hope to be cleared of all these made-up charges but I am ready for any outcome", she said, calling the courts unpredictable and lacking independence. Soon after she announced her intention to run, nude photos purportedly of her that she said had been manipulated were published on social media in what her supporters called an effort to undermine her credibility.

Kagame is largely credited with the development and stability that Rwanda has experienced since the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people were killed; he has also spearheaded gender equality, and 61% of parliamentarians are women.

Meanwhile, she and her mother spent more than a year in prison before their release on bail in October.

"The court finds that the prosecution charges were baseless", said one member of the three-judge panel. Kagame won a third term in office with 98% of the vote.

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