Saturday 16 December 2017

Rwanda files charges against detained opposition leader

Rwanda files charges against detained opposition leader
(AFP 09/26/17)

Police have charged Rwandan opposition leader Diane Rwigara, who was detained at the weekend along with her mother and sister, with "offenses to state security and forgery," according to a statement issued Monday.

Rwigara, who was blocked from challenging President Paul Kagame in August elections, is one of several opposition figures arrested earlier this month.

Police said the three women were detained Saturday, having already been held and released earlier in September on suspicions of tax evasion.

"During ongoing investigations, police uncovered credible evidence linking the trio to offenses against state security," a spokesman said in the statement.

It also cited a "refusal to cooperate" and the public disclosure of confidential information, without providing further details.

In an interview with AFP the day before her arrest, Rwigara said she was the victim of political persecution.

"I am being punished for standing against oppression and speaking my mind. My family is suffering because of this; otherwise it would be an amazing coincidence that such charges are coming up after I decided to speak out," she said.

Rwigara is the daughter of Assinapol Rwigara, an entrepreneur who made a fortune in industry and real estate, and a main backer of Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) during its efforts to topple the Hutu extremist regime in 1994, ending the Rwandan genocide.

Diane Rwigara later distanced herself from the FPR after her father's death in a car accident in 2015, which she has claimed was an "assassination".

The refusal to allow her to run against Kagame, who won the August 4 election with 99 percent of the vote, on claims of procedural irregularities was widely criticised by Western governments and rights groups.

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