Rwanda is a prison, Kagame its warden-Diane Rwigara

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Diane and Adeline in court

Rwanda is “like a prison” with Paul Kagame its imperious warden, according to Diane Rwigara, a young politician who sought to challenge for the presidency and whose treason trial begins Wednesday.

The 37-year-old, who was released on bail in October, struck a defiant tone speaking to AFP ahead of her trial for treason, insurrection and forgery.

“I just came out of a prison but my country still feels like a prison. And the prison guard is none other than the ruling party… dictating to us how to live, what to do and what to say,” she said in an interview at her home in the capital Kigali.

“I was not surprised by my arrest. I was kind of expecting it because of what I was doing in the country: if you dare criticise the government that is what happens, you get arrested, imprisoned or lose your life. I expected some form of retaliation.”

Victoire Ingabire, another woman who sought to run for the presidency in 2010, was blocked from competing, arrested, tried and spent six years in jail before her release in September.

Trial

While defending herself in court, Diane Rwigara said there is evidence to the “falsehoods” the Prosecution accuses her of spreading to incite masses.

She says everything she has said before, there is published proof. On forced expropriations, she has articles.

On the wealth and economy of the country being concentrated in the hands of the ruling party, she says she has articles from credible publications referring to RPF businesses.

On the issue of instability, she says there are cases of murders, disappearances and more, which point to insecurity and fear.

She says she stands by those remarks. She also said that the charges of forgery are fabricated.

She says that was done to block her candidature. On saying that the National Electoral Commission is like any other institution used by government, she says it is true that the Electoral body works in favour of the government, unless it’s not a government institution.

On the signatures of deceased persons, she says it is not true.

“They started by saying that 3 dead people signed for me but in the file it says 1 person. What happened to the other two? Did they resurrect? {Laughter in court} On Rwandans having no water or electricity, she says there are global reports on access to clean water & electricity in Rwanda which prove that the percentage of Rwandans with access to clean water or electricity is still low, same as poverty levels.”

She also stands by her remarks that the government invested in vanity projects like the Convention Centre to create a development facade to mislead the international community.

She also stands by her remarks that RPF has penetrated all businesses and all aspects of life.

The accusation of ‘public incitation’ against Rwigara is based on press conferences she gave as an aspirant for presidential candidacy.

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