Rwanda frees pris­on­ers

The Observer - - News -

One of Rwanda’s most prom­i­nent op­po­si­tion lead­ers walked free from jail yes­ter­day af­ter the gov­ern­ment ap­proved the early re­lease of more than 2,100 pris­on­ers with lit­tle ex­pla­na­tion.

Vic­toire Ingabire’s re­lease sur­prised many in the cap­i­tal, Ki­gali, as it is un­usual for the long­time pres­i­dent, Paul Kagame, to par­don po­ten­tial chal­lengers. She quickly urged Kagame to re­lease all other po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers.

Ingabire, head of the op­po­si­tion FDU-Inkingi party, was ar­rested in 2010 and found guilty of con­spir­acy to un­der­mine the gov­ern­ment and deny­ing Rwanda’s 1994 geno­cide, charges that she de­nied. She was sen­tenced to 15 years.

Hu­man Rights Watch, which has ex­pressed con­cern that the gov­ern­ment uses ac­cu­sa­tions of “geno­cide ide­ol­ogy” as a way to si­lence crit­ics, called the charges po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Ingabire had crit­i­cised the gov­ern­ment ahead of the 2010 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Rwanda’s gov­ern­ment has long been ac­cused by rights groups of sup­press­ing the op­po­si­tion and hav­ing a jus­tice sys­tem that lacks in­de­pen­dence.

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