11 September 2017

Rwanda: Rwigara Arrested

Photo: NBS TV/Youtube
Diane Rwigara.

Former Rwandan presidential hopeful accused of forgery, tax evasion

Rwandan police on Sept.04 arrested Diane Shima Rwigara, a leading critic of President Paul Kagame, charging her with forgery and tax evasion.

Her mother and sister were also arrested on the tax charges.

Earlier this year, electoral authorities barred Rwigara from standing in August's presidential vote, which Kagame won, saying 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 Sept.01.

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

Rwigara, a 35-year-old accountant, 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.

Rwigara claimed 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 was 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.

Rwigara was disqualified as a candidate after allegedly failing to collect enough supporting signatures ahead of the election. According to electoral laws, independent presidential candidates are required to present 600 signatures, with at least 12 from each of Rwanda's 30 districts, in order to run for president.

Rwigara allegedly turned in signatures of some people who had been long dead and others who belonged to a rival political party, according to Rwanda's electoral commission.

Rwigara is the daughter of the late Assinapol Rwigara, a tycoon who fell out with Kagame before his death in a car accident in 2015.

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.

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