Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Rwanda: Former Presidential Candidate Diane Rwigara and Mother Adeline Walk Free

Ms Rwigara says she was targeted by the state Image Ms Rwigara says she was targeted by the state
Pablo Mccormick | 08 December, 2018, 19:34

Rwigara's mother was also acquitted of charges of inciting insurrection and discrimination.

"All charges. have been dropped".

Rwigara together with her mother Adeline Mukangemanyi have been under incarceration over charges of inciting insurrection and forgery as allegedly discovered by the National Electoral Commission during the evaluation of nominations for the presidential elections held previous year.

The activist ran for president in 2017
Image The activist ran for president in 2017

Victoire and DianeDiane Rwigara is the daughter of a businessman and pivotal member of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, Assinapol Rwigara.

The court ruled that Diane Rwigara did not incite violence and was only exercising her freedom of speech when she criticised the presidency in her press conferences during her stint as presidential candidate hopeful.

"I am very happy with the court decision".

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Diane Rwigara, an outspoken young politician, was an unusual voice of criticism in tightly run Rwanda before the August 2017 election, and had been the victim of a smear campaign when nude pictures, purportedly of her, were shared online.

Since Rwigara's arrest past year, her brothers and sister have been interrogated, family assets have been forcibly auctioned to pay off a multi-million dollar tax claim, while a hotel the family owned was demolished for allegedly failing to abide by city guidelines.

The two remained in detention for more than a year before they were released on bail in October 2018.

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Ms Rwigara, who is described as "fearless" by those close to her, is not about to apologise for attempting to hold Rwanda's leaders to account. She was blocked from competing, arrested, tried and jailed for six years.

Her mother, Adeline, also faced a 22-year term after sending messages that were critical of the government on Whatsapp to her sister and a couple of her friends. "While we welcome their discharge and acquittal, we are concerned that the right to freedom of expression remains under attack in Rwanda", Amnesty International's Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Joan Nyanyuki said. "The judgement must be a first step in reversing the ongoing trend of repression in Rwanda".

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.

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