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February 02, 2010

Rwanda Opposition Candidate Demands Protection Ahead of Election

by Peter Clottey

The leader of Rwanda’s opposition United Democratic Forces says she will officially present a letter to President Paul Kagame Thursday to demand protection ahead of the scheduled August general election.

The leader of Rwanda’s opposition United Democratic Forces says she will officially present a letter to President Paul Kagame Thursday to demand protection ahead of the scheduled August general election. Victoire Ingabire said an unidentified youth group attacked her and her aide at Kinyinya sector, a suburb of the capital, Kigali.

“Today, I received a call from the mayor of the sector where I live, Kinyinya, and he told me that I have to return my ID. And when I arrived in his office, there were younger people who began to batter us, me and one of my colleagues. And they took my bag. (Then,) I went back quickly to my car, but my colleague stayed back and they battered him. And after (that, I) took him to hospital,” she said.

Rwanda’s media reports that other opposition groups have condemned the attack and accused President Kagame’s ruling Patriotic Front Party (RPF) of complicity - - a charge RPF denies.

Ingabire said the police failed to stop the attack, but the police deny Ingabire’s account.

“When they battered us, the police were there and they didn’t do anything. They watched us (as) the young people battered us,” she contended.

Several opposition party groups have vowed to defeat the ruling party in the upcoming election after visiting Ingabire’s injured aide at the hospital.

Ingabire said the ruling party wants to undermine her campaign ahead of the vote.

“We see that the government of General Kagame does not accept all political activities in our country. You know that I have been back to the country now three weeks ago, and they are doing everything to prevent (me) from participating in the election. They know that the population needs the change and they know that the population wants (me) to participate in the election, and they want me as the leader of them. This is why they (will) do everything that people will be afraid to come to me,” Ingabire said.

Ingabire recently came under fire for reportedly making pronouncements that genocide survivor groups (members of IBUKA) considered insulting.

IBUKA then called on the government to prosecute Ingabire, saying her pronouncement belittles the 1994 genocide in which hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were killed in a 100-day massacre.

Some political analysts say the latest attack against Ingabire could have resulted from her recent controversial remarks.