Rwanda: Diane Rwigara to face trial on Friday

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Female opposition candidate and women’s rights activist Diane Rwigara will appear in court on Friday to face charges of inciting insurrection and forgery.

Rwigara is the latest opponent of President Paul Kagame to face criminal charges in a regime widely criticised for stifling political freedom. Her mother and sister were also arrested by police after August’s election with all three women facing lengthy jail sentences.

Insurrection charges

Diane Rwigara was promptly arrested after attempting to run against President Paul Kagame in this year’s presidential election. The country’s only female candidate in the build-up to August’s election was highly critical of Kagame and was ultimately prevented from running on the grounds of using forged signatures in her application.

Prior to her disqualification, nude pictures of the 35-year-old circulated around social media. However, the former accounted insisted the images were fake and simply used as a political weapon to tarnish her reputation.

On August 30, Rwigara was arrested with her mother and sister at their family home. They were initially arrested on the grounds of tax evasion related to a family tobacco company but none of the three now faces charges related to tax evasion.

Politically motivated

Rwigara’s brother, who resides in the United States, says the charges against his sisters and mother are politically motivated. He says the cases against them are being used to punish the family for her attempts at running against the president and show others what happens when you stand up to Paul Kagame.

Rights groups are also criticising the president and Rwanda’s political environment that makes it difficult for political opposition to operate.

Kagame won August’s election with more than 98% of the public vote.

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.