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Rwanda Opposition Leader Says Government Silencing Dissent

  • Peter Clottey

Hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were killed in the 1994 genocide.

Hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were killed in the 1994 genocide.

The leader of Rwanda’s opposition United Democratic Forces (UDF) says President Paul Kagame’s government is determined to prevent her from participating in the scheduled August general elections.

The leader of Rwanda’s opposition United Democratic Forces (UDF) says President Paul Kagame’s government is determined to prevent her from participating in the scheduled August general elections.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza said the government is using the country’s 1994 genocide to “blackmail” and silence any dissenting views.

“They refused that I go outside the country. I went three times to the police office and there (was) nothing new regarding the questions they asked me. It is the same question that I collaborated with the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) and (that) there were some testimonies from some members of the FDLR that said that I was in Kinshasa with them in March. But I was not in Kinshasa in March I was there in February,” she said.

Ingabire Umuhoza was recently prevented from travelling abroad after police said she was under investigation because of comments she made about the 1994 genocide.

Shortly after returning to Rwanda, Ingabire Umuhoza called for the prosecution of those responsible for the death of Hutus during the genocide.

But a group of genocide survivors called on the government to prosecute the opposition leader, saying her pronouncement belittled the genocide in which hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were killed.

Ingabire Umuhoza said despite the lack of evidence, officials are preventing her from organizing her first official meeting which will pave the way for her party to be registered and fully recognized by the government.

“When my lawyer asked them that because (their) testimonies were not right and that now Ingabire was free to go where she wants and free to organize meeting of her political party. They said no not yet. We are looking for other evidence against her. But that was the day after the minister of justice said there (was) no evidence against me,” Ingabire Umuhoza said.

But supporters of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) dismissed the accusations as without merit. They said President Kagame’s party can confidently run on its record of ensuring adequate security and rebuilding the economy against an opposition that they said has nothing to offer Rwandans.

But Ingabire Umuhoza said the government is sharply opposed to dissenting views.

“The government of Paul Kagame does not accept or tolerate any other opinion. If you are not aligned with the policy of Paul Kagame… you will end up in jail. And I think it is about time that we stop this regime of Paul Kagame,” Ingabire Umuhoza said.

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