Rwanda opposition faces intimidation-rights group...

Published on by KANYARWANDA

Rwanda opposition faces intimidation-rights group
Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:56pm GMT
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By Hereward Holland

KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwanda's opposition is facing increasing threats, attacks and harassment by individuals and institutions close to the government and ruling party ahead of this year's elections, a rights group said on Wednesday.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) party of President Paul Kagame, who is widely expected to win a second seven-year term in August, did not tolerate political opposition or public criticism.

Rwanda's police spokesman, Eric Kayiranga, told Reuters the security forces were investigating the harassment allegations.

HRW said three vocal opposition parties that had emerged in the run-up to this year's presidential poll had suffered serious intimidation and encountered difficulties registering.

"The Rwandan government already tightly controls political space," Georgette Gagnon, HRW's Africa director, said in a statement. "These incidents will further undermine democracy by discouraging any meaningful opposition in the elections."

Kagame, a former rebel leader whose forces ended Rwanda's 1994 genocide, has said that Victoire Ingabire -- outspoken leader of the so far unregistered United Democratic Forces (UDF) -- may be prosecuted under the nation's genocide ideology law.

The largely pro-government media have accused Ingabire of stoking ethnic division after she called for investigations into crimes committed against Hutus by the army and largely Tutsi RPF guerrillas during 1994.

The opposition leader told Reuters she was questioned on Wednesday by police who accused her of promoting genocide ideology, ethnic divisionism and of collaborating with Rwandan rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. She denies it.   Continued...


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