afrol News, 21 April - Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the Rwandan opposition and a major candidate in the upcoming August presidential elections, has been detained accused of "denying" the 1994 genocide.
Ms Ingabire, heading the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) opposition party, this morning was arrested after she had made public statements about Rwanda's reconciliation process after the 1994 genocide in which around 900,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by an extremist Hutu regime.
According to the UDF, he party' presidential candidate had only presented "her views on how to bring about genuine national reconciliation and peace through the rule of law and equal opportunity and how to end the cycle of political violence through a non-violent, peaceful democratic competition for and exercise of power."
But the police in the Rwandan capital Kigali today claimed Ms Ingabire had committed "serious crimes" by denying the genocide and collaborating with terrorist groups, thus undermining peace in Rwanda.
Genocide denial is illegal in Rwanda. Many radical groups more or less supportive of the genocide have been banned by the government of President Paul Kagame, but increasingly also more moderate groups and media critical of current policies are being accused of undermining peace or denying genocide.
Accoring to Eugene Ndahayo, leader of the UDF Support Committee, the arrest of Ms Ingabire was "a barbaric and unlawful act against a peace-loving mother who braved the system to show that there is another way to bring about lasting peace and development in Rwanda."
The UDF party strongly protested Ms Ingabire's arrest and called for international pressure to secure her release. "We call upon governments and peace loving people and organisations to support us in getting our chair immediately and unconditionally released," a UDF statement said.
Ms Ingabire only returned to Rwanda from exile in January this year, rapidly making her the most marked opposition politician in the country. She has since on several occasions complained about harassment and intimidation by the ruling party.
President Kagame only on 8 April, in a speech marking the genocide anniversary, accused Ms Igabire of "political hooliganism" before calling the UDF opposition "useless people". Ms Igabire answered by saying a genocide commemoration "should rather be an opportunity for healing wounds," not demonising the opposition.
Rwanda is preparing for presidential elections in August. Local and foreign human rights groups have decried increasingly repressive policies against the press and opposition in the run-up to the elections. President Kagame is widely expected to win the polls but not expected to accept a free and fair voting exercise.
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