Government cracks down on opposition groups in build-up to August election
Rwanda appears set for a rerun of its deeply undemocratic vote in 2003.
That election was widely denounced after the former rebel army leader Paul Kagame took 95 per cent of the vote and all effective opposition was quashed. Now, as then, opposition leaders are being arrested or intimidated, rival parties are being refused the right to register and critical newspapers are being closed down. Adding to the tension is a series of deadly grenade attacks that have shattered the peace in the capital, Kigali. They have been followed by the sudden sacking of senior army officials.
The main opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire, faces trial charged with genocide denial. After securing the temporary release of Mrs Ingabire on Thursday, her US lawyer, Peter Erlinder, was himself taken into custody.
The opposition crackdown has prompted the US government, normally a staunch ally of President Kagame, to voice its concern in unusually strong terms. The US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, said: "The political environment ahead of the election has been riddled by a series of worrying actions taken by the government of Rwanda, which appear to be attempts to restrict the freedom of expression."
In addition to the arrest of Mrs Ingabire, Mr Carson pointed to the suspension of two newspapers and the denial of a visa to a researcher from the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which has repeatedly criticised government oppression.
The build-up to the August poll has exposed the fraught nature of the discussion over the events in 1994 that left 800,000 people dead and millions displaced. The current government insists that the killings were part of a premeditated Hutu campaign to wipe out ethnic Tutsis and have criminalised any dissenting views. Mrs Ingabire, a Hutu, who returned to Rwanda after 16 years in exile, has since been accused of inciting racial hatred. She has had her efforts to register her United Democratic Forces party blocked, her computer seized and her passport confiscated.
A coalition of opposition groups last week appealed to the President to stop what they described as a series of "near war" speeches from poisoning the election. "Politically there's no space for the opposition or any other view than that of the government," said Daniela Kroslak, an analyst with the International Crisis Group in Nairobi, Kenya.
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
- 5 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
Halloween 2014: From the Screaming Man of Pluckley to the 'White Lady' of the Tower of London - Britain's 20 most haunted places
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...
£19200 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...