KIGALI – Rwandan authorities have charged a critic of President Paul Kagame with inciting insurrection and forgery after she was barred from challenging him in August elections, the public prosecutor’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
Diane Shima 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 since it fought its way to power to end a genocide in 1994.
Kagame won the August election with 98.8 percent of the vote.
Rwigara’s mother Adeline and sister Anne have also been charged with incitement and “discrimination and sectarianism”, prosecutor’s spokesman Faustin Nkusi told Reuters. He said the cases were filed in court on Tuesday and awaited a trial date.
The three women have been in detention for around two weeks. They were first taken from their home in the Rwandan capital on Aug. 30 on tax evasion allegations related to the family’s tobacco company. That charge was not listed in those filed on Tuesday.
Kagame won international praise for restoring stability in Rwanda and presiding over a rapid economic recovery after the genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate ethnic Hutus were killed.
But human rights groups say he has muzzled independent media and suppressed potential democratic opponents. Some critics of the government have been imprisoned or killed.
Electoral authorities barred Rwigara from standing in August, saying she had not submitted enough supporters’ signatures and some of the names she did sent in belonged to dead people.
Rwigara’s brother Aristide, who lives in the United States, said the charges against the three women are politically motivated and intended to punish the family for her attempted presidential bid. He was not reachable for comment on Wednesday.
Nkusi said the charges were not related to politics.