President Kagame Bows to Pressure, Releases Opposition leader Diane Rwigara and Mother

A Rwandan court has ordered the release on bail of a vocal critic of President Paul Kagame who was barred from running against him in an election last year.

While giving the ruling, the judge said Diane Rwigara and her mother, who was arrested along with her last year, would be released immediately but that they were not allowed to leave the capital Kigali “without authorization”.

As the judge read the ruling to the courtroom which was packed with diplomats, journalist and relatives of the two women who were wearing light pink prison uniforms, the room erupted into cheers and several people shouted “Praise to God!”.

Rwigara and her mother were jailed in October 2017 on charges of incitement and forgery that were widely seen as politically motivated. The 37-year-old businesswoman and activist has repeatedly accused Kagame of stifling dissent and criticized his Rwandan Patriotic Front’s near total hold on power since it fought its way to office to end a genocide in 1994.

The court’s ruling comes several weeks after Rwanda freed Victoire Ingabire, an opposition leader who had served six years of a 15-year jail term, after Kagame pardoned her.

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