Rwanda high court acquits Kagame critic, Diane Rwigara

Rwanda high court acquits Kagame critic, Diane Rwigara

Ms Rwigara's difficulties began when she declared her candidacy in Rwanda's 2017 presidential contest.

Her mother, Adeline, who was also standing trial along with Diane, was also acquitted by the same court.

On Tuesday, a commission of the US House of Representatives held a briefing on human rights and political prisoners in Rwanda, drawing attention to the Rwigaras.

In Thursday's ruling, the high court judges said the prosecution failed to prove that Ms Rwigara had personally forged supporters' signatures and ruled that her criticism of the government during press conferences was protected by freedom of speech in both the constitution and worldwide law. I am continuing with my political journey ...everything I talked about in the past has not been resolved.

U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici told the BBC after meeting with the government that despite Rwanda's progress, political and civil rights violations shouldn't be masked.

She launched an activist group called the People Salvation Movement to challenge the Kagame regime to ensure human rights.

Rwanda's justice minister and attorney general in a statement said the government respects the verdict and "will carefully study its implications".

Rwanda high court acquits Kagame critic, Diane Rwigara
Rwanda high court acquits Kagame critic, Diane Rwigara

The court also said Rwigara's criticism of the government in the press was an exercise of her freedom of expression, guaranteed by both the constitution and worldwide law.

Ms Rwigara, 37, was arrested in September 2017 after her attempt to run in Rwanda's July presidential election was denied on grounds she had allegedly forged signatures of supporters for her bid.

Some Rwandans in the capital, Kigali, said they were shocked by the court's decision.

Her bail comes days after Kagame gave clemency to 2,140 convicts, including a woman who had also tried to run against him in the 2010 polls; Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.

"I hope to be cleared of all these made-up charges but I am ready for any outcome", she said earlier this week.

Kagame has won worldwide praise for presiding over a peaceful and rapid economic recovery in Rwanda since the genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Rwigara later was disqualified from running, with the government saying she lacked enough supporting signatures and had forged some of them. Kagame won a third term in office with 98% of the vote.

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