April 22nd, 2010
01:36 AM ET

Rwandan opposition leader arrested, '94 genocide cited

A Rwandan court will decide Thursday whether to grant bail to a presidential hopeful arrested on charges that include collaborating with a terrorist organization and "genocide ideology," referring to mass killings of hundreds of thousands in 1994.

Victoire Ingabire is a likely challenger to President Paul Kagame in the August elections. Her arrest Wednesday was followed by an appearance in a Kigali court, according to a statement from the prosecution.

"The court will decide on Thursday whether she remains in preventive custody as requested by the prosecution or is granted bail awaiting substantive trial," the prosecution said.

Prosecution officials said she faces charges of genocide ideology, ethnic division and collaborating with a terrorist group.

Ingabire, the leader of the opposition United Democratic Forces party, was in exile in the Netherlands until January.

"Her involvement in politics does not mean that she is above the law," the prosecution said in a statement.

Opposition party members are facing increasing threats, attacks and harassment ahead of the elections, according to rights groups. Ingabire has said she's been harassed since her return.

"The Rwandan government already tightly controls political space," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "These incidents will further undermine democracy by discouraging any meaningful opposition in the elections."

Kagame has denied that he's trying to silence the opposition. In an interview with CNN earlier this year, he slammed human rights organizations for their assessment.

"You tend to make a judgment of a country, 11 million people, on what a couple of people have said and (they) don't take into account what Rwandans say," he said. "Nobody has asked the Rwandans ... it's as if they don't matter in the eyes of the human rights people. It's our own decisions in the end."

Rwanda is scheduled to hold national elections in August, sparking fears of ethnic division. In 1994, militias made up of ethnic Hutus slaughtered ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus nationwide in a 100-day rampage that killed at least 800,000 people.

The genocide ended when Tutsi-led militias backing Kagame ousted the Hutu government supporting the massacre.

Ingabire is an ethnic Hutu. Her party decried her arrest as illegal and urged officials to release her.

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soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. uwamwiza jocelyne

    rwanda is not ready to give democracy to all rwandan,butu still kills innocent people and acuse avery boddy for genocide ideology?kagame is strange,we need international security counsel to help us and send him in procecution too.he is the most killer

    April 26, 2010 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. John

    Kagame is a ruthless dictator. He has been manipulating the international community for a long time but the now the truth is beginning to come out. The real Kagame, the hitler of Africa, has come to light. Arrests of oposition leaders, shutting down indepenent newspapers, kicking out Human right Watch workers, those are the signs of a real dictator. Ingabire is the Mandela of Rwanda. Stay strong Mrs Ingabire our beloved.

    April 26, 2010 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. anne in america.

    wake up! where was she, these last 16 years> yes, she was in The Netherlands. Living a VERY comfortable life! did not have to work since the Dutch government supports her... she received free aid and unemployment benefits; her husband never worked either.....

    and now she wants to rescue Rwanda and the Rwanda people??
    she is dangerous!!

    everyone should read the interviews with her in the Dutch papers and magazines.

    she is dangerous. and lazy.

    Maybe the time for Kagame has past; maybe it is time for him to pass the torch of healing to someone else,
    but for Sure, Victoire is NOT the answer and she is NOT the future for Rwanda!!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
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