Published: Sat, December 08, 2018

Critic of Rwandan president cleared of insurrection and forgery

Critic of Rwandan president cleared of insurrection and forgery

"I am continuing with my political journey ... because there's still a lot that needs to be done in our country".

On Tuesday, a commission of the US House of Representatives held a briefing on human rights and political prisoners in Rwanda, drawing attention to the Rwigaras.

The court also ruled that Rwigara's criticism of the government through press conferences was an exercise of her freedom of expression, guaranteed by both the constitution and global law.

The acquittal of Diane Rwigara and her mother Adeline could be seen a significant step in Rwanda's democracy.

U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici told the BBC after meeting with the government that despite Rwanda's progress, political and civil rights violations shouldn't be masked.

Undeterred, the budding politician launched her own political party called the People Salvation Movement, but the police raided the family home - detained the accountant and her mother for the following 12 months.

But it added: "We condemn all attempts by external actors to inappropriately influence judicial processes in Rwanda".

The courtroom, packed with diplomats and supporters, erupted in applause when the verdict was read out, as Diane Rwigara and her mother were overcome with tears.

Amnesty International welcomed the court's decision. She faced 22 years in prison if convicted.

Speaking to The Associated Press ahead of her court appearance, Rwigara remained defiant, saying no amount of pressure will silence her.

Paul Kagame, the country's towering, beanpole-like president, has been widely praised for his role in providing stability and economic growth after Rwanda's catastrophic genocide in 1994. His government rejects such accusations.

Her attempt to stand against Kagame in the country's last presidential poll in August a year ago was blocked after she was accused of not submitting enough supporters' signatures and that some of those she submitted were forged.

In its ruling, the High Court said the duo was not guilty of insurrection saying the State had failed to present enough evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

"The court finds that the prosecution charges were baseless", said one member of the three-judge panel.

President Kagame won the 2017 election with over 98 per cent of the votes, securing a third term in office and extending his 17 years in power.

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