Another critic of Rwanda’s Kagame arrested

35 years old Diane Shima Rwigara and leading critic of Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame
35 years old Diane Shima Rwigara and leading critic of Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame

Diane Shima Rwigara 35, is a trained accountant and women right activist who has repeatedly spoken out against bad governance under President Paul Kagame and about injustice and oppression in Rwanda.

She was arrested with her mother and sister on tax related charges.

Diane Shima’s father, Assinapol Rwigara,  a key financial backer of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, was killed in a suspicious car accident on the evening of 4 February 2015 in Gacuriro, Kigali. His family believes his death was a politically motivated. Police report said that, he was instantly killed when the Mercedez-Benz car he was driving was in a head-on collision with a heavy truck

On 3 May 2017, Diane Rwigara announced her intention to run in the presidential election. 72 hours later, nude photos of her were leaked in an apparent attempt to humiliate and intimidate her. She reiterated her intention to run, with campaign vows to work towards eradicating poverty, establishing universal health insurance and championing free speech

She was later barred by the electoral authorities from standing in the August’s presidential vote, which Kagame won, on the ground that she had not submitted enough supporters’ signatures and some of the names she did sent in belonged to dead people.

Rwigara denied the allegations.

”They are accused of tax evasion and secondly Diane Rwigara is accused of using fake documents while she was gathering signatures for (her) presidential candidacy,” police spokesman Theos Badege told reporters on Monday.

Police said they had a warrant issued by a prosecutor to arrest them.

Rwigara, has repeatedly accused Kagame of stifling dissent and criticised his Rwandan Patriotic Front’s near total hold on power. Kagame won last month’s election with 98.8 percent of the vote..

Kagame won international praise for presiding over a peaceful and rapid economic recovery in Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, when an estimated 800,000 people Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

But he has also faced increased criticism for what human rights groups say are widespread abuses, a muzzling of independent media, and suppression of political opposition.

Rwigara claimed that she was being held under house arrest before Monday’s police action.

“Tell us why we are being arrested? Why should we go to the police while you have confined us to this place and took away all our money without leaving us any?” Rwigara said as she and her family were being taken away.

Asked about this, Badege, the police spokesman, said that earlier police had only searched Rwigara’s home and taken a few items and money away in line with the law.

It was a clear application of the law,” Badege said.

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