Forgery investigation underway in Rwanda


Rwandan police are investigating Diane Shima Rwigara – a critic of President Paul Kagame barred from challenging him in elections this month – for tax evasion and forgery.

Officers searched Rwigara’s family home in Kigali, police spokesperson Theos Badege said, dismissing online reports she had been arrested.

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.

Electoral authorities barred her from standing in August’s presidential vote, saying she had not submitted sufficient supporters’ signatures and some names she did send in were those of dead people – allegations she denied.

The US State Department and the European Union criticised the decision to disqualify her from the vote, which Kagame won by 98.8%.

Police said they searched Rwigara’s house after receiving documents from the electoral commission, without going into further details.

The phones of Rwigara and three family members were switched off when Reuters called them. No one answered when a Reuters reporter rang the bell at the house.

The police spokesman said allegations of tax evasion were being jointly investigated with the Rwanda Revenue Authority.

The authority’s Commissioner General, Richard Tusabe, said the Rwigara family’s tobacco company had not paid taxes “over a period of five years.” No one in the family was immediately available to comment.

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 faced mounting criticism for what human rights groups say are widespread abuses, a muzzling of independent media and suppression of political opposition.