A Rwandan court charged Victoire Ingabire, who heads one of the country’s emerging opposition parties yet to register for August elections, with crimes linked to genocide.
Ingabire was charged with promoting genocide ideology, ethnic division and collaborating with the Interahamwe rebels who carried out atrocities during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide in which 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died.
The leader of the unregistered United Democratic Forces faces jail if she is convicted of the charges laid by prosecutors at the Gasabo Intermediate Court in Kigali.
Ingabire said the allegations were baseless. She is set to appear in court today, when a decision is to be taken on whether she should be granted bail.
Rights groups criticise Rwanda for planning August elections without a meaningful opposition to President Paul Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
The emerging opposition groups say they face harassment, intimidation and legal and administrative barriers to registration, adding they may form one bloc to oppose the RPF.
Ingabire’s party, together with the Social Party Imberakuri (PS-Imberakuri) and the unregistered Democratic Green Party (DGP) said in February they had formed a forum to discuss common problems.
Ingabire’s arrest came shortly after two senior military officers were suspended and arrested for corruption.
The Rwanda Defence Forces spokesperson, Major Jill Rutaremara, said Lieutenant General Charles Muhire, and the former joint Deputy Force Commander for the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Major General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake, were arrested earlier this week.
“Lt. Gen. Muhire was suspended due to serious charges of corruption and misuse of office while Maj. Gen. Karenzi Karake was suspended on serious charges of immoral conduct that contravenes and undermines the values and ethos of the Rwanda Defence Force,” Rutaremara said.
“This action was taken in order to enforce discipline, moral conduct and accountability in the Rwanda Defence Force.”
Pic: Victims of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide