Johannesburg – The Rwandan authorities are continuing their crackdown on political activists and critics of President Paul Kagame. Women’s rights activist Diane Rwigara has been arrested for alleged offences against state security, AP reported on Monday morning.
Rwigara, her mother and sister, are currently being interrogated after they were arrested on Saturday, Rwandan police reported on Sunday.
The mother and sister are facing tax evasion charges while Rwigara is also facing charges of forgery – charges critics allege are trumped up as part of Kagame’s repression of political opponents.
Rwigara attempted to run for the presidency in Rwanda’s presidential elections in August but was disqualified by the East African country’s electoral board on the grounds she didn’t have enough signatures to support her candidacy.
Her detention follows nine Rwandan opposition activists facing possible life imprisonment after they were charged last week with allegedly forming an armed group and planning to overthrow Kagame’s government.
However, Boniface Twagirimana, the vice president of the FDU Inkingi movement, denied the charges in the court in the capital.
According to the prosecutor, the nine defendants joined the ‘P5’ group, comprising five organisations, with Inkingi being one of them.
They face 10-15 years if found guilty of forming an armed group and life if it’s proven that they planned to overthrow Kagame’s regime.
Inkingi leader Victoire Ingabire was jailed in 2013 for forming an armed group, in addition to other charges.
The central African nation under Kagame’s leadership has been praised by the international community for its economic transformation and ostensibly bringing the divided nation together after the 1994 genocide which saw at least 800 000 Tutsis, and moderate Hutus, slaughtered by Hutu Interahamwe militias.
However, criticism against his draconian leadership, where little to no political opposition is brooked, and critical media is censored, has been mounting.
Furthermore, Kigali stands accused of fuelling conflict and backing armed groups in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and being involved in the exploitation of minerals there.