Rwanda rebels admit presidential hopeful link: prosecutor


Two former Rwandan rebels have claimed they received money to build a new insurgency from presidential hopeful Victoire Ingabire, who has been charged with crimes linked to genocide, the national prosecutor said.

Ingabire, who heads one of the central African nation’s emerging opposition parties, denied she had met either individual or sent them funds.

The accusations may jeopardise her chances of being allowed to register her party and run against President Paul Kagame in August presidential elections, in which he is expected to win another seven-year term.

National Prosecutor Augustin Nkusi said the pair had pleaded guilty to charges of plotting to destabilise Rwanda, belonging to a terrorist organisation and collaborating with Ingabire to launch a new rebel group, the Coalition of Democratic Forces.
“Ingabire met them in the Democratic Republic of Congo and asked them if they could make a force for her. She said she could give them political and financial support,” Nkusi told Reuters.
“They are accused of being terrorists because they belonged to the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), and after that they tried to make their own forces: governed, supported and launched by Ingabire,” he said.

Ingabire denies support

Ingabire told Reuters she did not know either Lt. Col Noel Habiyaremye or Lt. Col Tharcisse Mbiturende. They were arrested in Burundi last year while seeking military support for their insurgency, according to Nkusi.
“I don’t have any contact with them. I don’t know them … I don’t have any military groups,” Ingabire said. “They said I met these people in Kinshasa in March, but in my passport I can show that in March 2008 I was not in Kinshasa.”
“If I sent money to them, (the courts) have to provide evidence of when and where I sent this money,” she said.

A former accountant who in February returned to Rwanda from The Netherlands after 16 years in exile, Ingabire was last week charged with peddling genocide ideology, ethnic division and collaborating with the FDLR rebels who have destabilised eastern Congo for more than a decade.

Ingabire said the charges were baseless. She was subsequently released on bail but is not allowed to leave the capital Kigali or return home.

Ingabire also rejects allegations made in a 2009 UN report linking some of her party members to the FDLR, some of whose leaders were responsible for the genocide.

Since returning to Rwanda, Ingabire’s questions over the success of ethnic reconciliation and justice have prompted heavy criticism from the country’s largely pro-government media.

They accuse Ingabire of flouting the country’s post-genocide constitution which bans sectarianism and acts that could incite conflict or disputes. The law was established in 2008 to prevent inflammatory language which played a major role in fomenting the genocide.

Rights groups say the law is vague and frequently used by the government to stifle legitimate dissent.

Pic: Victims of the 1994 Rwanada genocide