Rwanda: Diane Rwigara and mother freed on bail

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The family of Rwandan opposition leader and government critic Diane Rwigara say she and her mother have been released on bail, after being detained for more than a year.

According to local media reports, three High Court judges ruled that the prosecution failed to give credible reasons for the pair being detained during their trial and ordered their release.

Opposition leader Rwigara granted bail

Videos circulating on social media show the courtroom erupting in cheers as Diane Wrigara and her mother were freed on Friday with family members and friends rushing to hug the pair.

Speaking to journalists, Rwigara’s brother described the ruling as a positive step for his sister and political freedoms but warned the future still remains unclear as her trial continues.

Diane Wrigara is facing charges of incitement and fraud following her attempt to run against President Paul Kagame in last year’s election. Rwigara was the only female challenger ahead of the poll, which Kagame went on to win with 99% of the vote.

Before voters hit the ballot box, Rwigara and already been prevented from running and arrested on accusations of fraud related to her registration papers. She is accused of forging signatures of support needed to qualify for candidacy, allegedly using the names of dead people. Rwigara denies the charges and her supporters say the government is targeting the opposition leader for her public criticism of President Paul Kagame.

The release of Rwigara on bail raises hopes for increased political freedoms in Rwanda, following the surprise release of 2,410 political prisoners last month. Among those released was Victoire Ingabire, the 49-year-old leader of the opposition FDU-Inkingi party, who served eight years of a 15-year prison sentence.

However, President Kagame has played down the release of the prisoners and accusations that his regime stifles political freedom.

Featured image: Twitter

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.