Opposition official and others charged for plotting against Rwanda government


A Rwandan opposition official and eight others were charged with forming an armed group and seeking to overthrow government – indictments that could see them jailed for life.

Boniface Twagirimana, vice president of the FDU Inkingi movement, denied the charges in the Kigali court. The party’s leader, Victoire Ingabire, is in jail, convicted of conspiring to form an armed group and other charges in 2013.

The prosecutor said the defendants joined ‘P5′, describing it as an umbrella group of five organisations, including FDU Inkingi, operating outside the country.

The central African nation has been widely praised for the speed of its economic growth and for its overall recovery from the genocide that killed more than 800,000 people in 1994.

But rights groups have accused it of fuelling conflict and backing armed groups in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

President Paul Kagame has faced mounting criticism for what activists say are widespread abuses, a muzzling of independent media and suppression of political opposition – accusations he dismisses.

Only one defendant pleaded guilty to a charge – Papias Ndayishimiye said he planned to join to “offer some help”. He also denied plotting against government.

They could be jailed for 10 to 15 years if convicted of forming and for life if found guilty of planning to overthrow government.

Earlier this month, police arrested Diane Shima Rwigara, a leading Kagame critic and charged her with forgery and tax evasion.