Shut up! An­gry Kagame tells de­fi­ant Ingabire

Rwanda’s leader warns the politi­cian that her ut­ter­ances could land her back in prison

The East African - - NEWS -


Rwan­dan op­po­si­tion politi­cian Vic­toire Ingabire is fac­ing back­lash from the gov­ern­ment for ap­pear­ing to be de­fi­ant, even af­ter she was granted a pres­i­den­tial par­don for crimes she was con­victed in 2012.

Ms Ingabire, founder of the un­reg­is­tered op­po­si­tion party Fdu-inkingi, was last week re­leased from prison af­ter serv­ing six years of her 15-year jail sen­tence, which the Supreme Court handed her for be­lit­tling the 1994 Geno­cide Against the Tutsi, form­ing an armed group and in­cit­ing pub­lic re­volt.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter her re­lease, Ms Ingabire told jour­nal­ists that she hoped Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame would par- don other ‘‘po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers,’’ a state­ment that some gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials say is mis­lead­ing.

Ms Ingabire later told BBC that she re­ceived a pres­i­den­tial par­don with­out re­quest­ing one. But the gov­ern­ment in­sists that she had asked to be par­doned.

“I know for a fact that she asked for pres­i­den­tial par­don. I am not spec­u­lat­ing; she is ly­ing,” State Min­is­ter for Con­sti­tu­tional and Le­gal Af­fairs, Evode Uwiz­ey­i­mana told a na­tional ra­dio sta­tion.

“I don’t un­der­stand why peo­ple re­fer to her as a politi­cian or po­lit­i­cal pris­oner... Or any of the peo­ple who were re­leased. They com­mit­ted crimes and po­lit­i­cal par­ties have laws that gov­ern how they are set up and how to con­duct ac­tiv­i­ties,” add- ed Mr Uwiz­ey­i­mana.

A pres­i­den­tial par­don is granted only upon ap­pli­ca­tion made in writ­ing, ad­dressed to the pres­i­dent and copied to the Jus­tice Min­istry.

“Upon re­ceiv­ing ap­pli­ca­tion for par­don from Ms Ingabire, the Supreme Court, Min­istry of Jus­tice and Na­tional Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tion Au­thor­ity pro­vided the pres­i­dent their opin­ions in re­gard to Ms Ingabire’s ap­pli­ca­tion, like any other ap­pli­cant,” Mr Uwiz­ey­i­mana told

Upon her re­lease, Ms Ingabire met an­other politi­cian, Bernard Nta­ganda, who was re­leased in 2014 af­ter serv­ing a four-year sen­tence for con­duct­ing il­le­gal demon­stra­tions.

She also met Anne Rwigara, sis­ter of Diane Rwigara, an as­pi­rant in the last pres­i­den­tial elec­tion who was ar­rested along­side her mother and charged with forg­ing doc­u­ments and in­cit­ing pub­lic re­volt.

Ms Rwigara, how­ever, told

that they did not dis­cuss any­thing po­lit­i­cal. Pres­i­dent Kagame has is­sued a strong warn­ing that Ms Ingabire’s claims that she did not seek pres­i­den­tial cle­mency could land her back in jail.

“You hear peo­ple say­ing ‘I didn’t apol­o­gise to be freed, I can’t apol­o­gise. They freed me be­cause of pres­sure…’ Pres­sure here? If you keep act­ing like that, you may find your­self back,” he told MPS while pre­sid­ing over the swear­ing-in of the Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day.

“Pres­sure does not work here… You could find your­self back there or where you were pre­vi­ously wan­der­ing in for­eign coun­tries. We want ideas that take us for­ward. And we will not be afraid to tell you that we have no room for those that take us back­wards.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Uwiz­ey­i­mana, noth­ing stops Ms Ingabire from mak­ing po­lit­i­cal state­ments as long as she abides by the law.

“Po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties in Rwanda have a le­gal frame­work,” Mr Uwiz­ey­i­mana said.

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