Rwanda: The interference of President Paul Kagame in court proceedings proves the political nature of the trial against Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.

 

At the end of his two-day official visit in Uganda, President Paul Kagame held a press conference in Munyonyo, the outskirts of Kampala, which was broadcast on local television, TV NTV[1] Uganda . During that conference, President Paul Kagame surprised the public by stating that Ms. Ingabire Umuhoza, FDU-Inkingi’s Chair, incarcerated in Kigali maximum security prison, has pleaded guilty before the security services. After a moment of hesitation and embarrassment, President Paul Kagame said that Ms. Ingabire “has largely accepted the majority of the charges against her”; namely, treason, terrorism and genocide ideology.

 
According to the BBC Gahuzamiryango, in its edition of December 12, 2011 at 6:30pm, President Paul Kagame added that the lawyers have already abandoned FDU-Inkingi’s Chair, which is not true, because no later than December 13, 2011, one of her lawyers defended her before the Court.

This is not the first time that President Paul Kagame says that his government has irrefutable evidence against Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. However, the prosecution is still struggling to prove the guilt of Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, even before the judges that are prone to the cause defended by the government of General President. On May 22, 2010, in an interview with a Ugandan newspaper, The Daily Monitor, he said: “We have evidence against her on all ten charges she has always denied. Now, faced with the obvious evidence that we have put before her, she pleaded guilty on seven of the ten counts”! On October 6, 2010, at the inauguration following the sham election of August 2010, President Paul Kagame announced the imminent arrest of Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and defied the international community that continues to blindly support an opposition leader suspected of divisionism and of spreading hatred. Eight days later, Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was arrested and incarcerated in Kigali maximum security prison.

 
In doing so, President Paul Kagame, as usual, put pressures on the court by showing the judges the official line to follow. These pressures increase every time the Rwandan regime is put in difficulties or is suspected of involvement in assassinations or attempted assassinations of opponents or independent journalists. Even though there are heavy suspicions on Kigali involvement in the murder of journalist Charles Ingabire, in Kampala, Uganda, on December 1, 2011, the President of Rwanda chose to label the deceased journalist as thief as if he would like to implicitly condone his murder! That is the same way he reacted on the assassination of former Interior Minister Mr. Seth Sendashonga who was exiled in Kenya in 1998.

 
The party FDU-Inkingi challenges President Paul Kagame and his government to provide any evidence of the guilty plea that Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza allegedly made before the security services or anyone else.

 
To our knowledge such a plea doesn’t exist anywhere, let alone the voluminous file of charges submitted to the Court. Further more, even if there were such evidence, one wonders if the prosecution report to the president or to the court. This severely jeopardizes the independence of the judicial.

 

The party FDU Inkingi urges the public opinion to ignore such a malicious campaign and such interferences in the ongoing judicial process, which clearly show, should we stress it enough, the kind of justice we have in Rwanda.

 

The defenders of the Rwandan government who talk about the possibility of a fair trial in Rwanda should reconsider their position in light of this pitiful attempt to influence the outcome of the trial. It is virtually impossible for a judge in Rwanda not to succumb to such utterances from the highest authorities of the Executive.

 
Once again, the party FDU Inkingi calls upon all people who are interested in the truth, to work for the cause we have always defended: our dispute with the Kigali government is political, nothing else. More than ever before, Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza should be seen as a political prisoner and be treated as such.

 
At the same time, we denounce the harassments and pressures from the regime on a prisoner, that is, a person deprived of his/her liberty, to negotiate or withdraw any of the political rights. Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was sent to Rwanda, mandated by her party. We ask the Rwandan government to release her without delay, before considering any constructive dialogue, which can only take place with free people, mandated by the party.

 
 
Done in Lausanne, on December 13, 2011.

 

 
Dr. Nkiko Nsengimana,
Chairman of the Coordinating Committee of FDU-Inkingi