On March 1st, 2012 Rwandan and international publics learnt that Kigali had released from prison Charles Ntakirutimana, former minister in the government of former Rwandan president Pasteur Bizimungu.
Ntakirutimana has just completed his time [10 years] of imprisonment for forming a political party back in 2002 and before the general and rigged elections of 2003.
As it is known these elections extended and strengthened Paul Kagame’s political power over the country and its institutions.
Since July 1994, he had been the strongman of Rwandan political landscape, without necessarily being president or prime minister.
The now officially free prisoner has not benefited from any clemency from the president to be released. The judiciary system as manned by Kagame’s people sentenced him while he was innocent. It let him languish all those years without any possibility of appeal to an impartial jurisdiction.
From 2010 up to today, it won’t be wrong to say that the Rwandan president has been confronted with political difficulties of a different nature. These have weakened his stand inside and outside the country.
Some of these problems include the serious shift in RPF ranks which saw the like of Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, Gerard Gahima, Theogene Rudasingwa and al. speaking out against Kagame’s rule.
There has also been Victoire Ingabire from FDU-Inkingi, whose actions have undoubtedly and rightly damaged the Rwandan president’s image forever.
The UN Mapping report was another blow to Kagame’s portrayal as visionary leader when it highlighted how his forces massacred Congolese populations and Rwandan refugees during Congo’s wars [1996 and 1998].
In Rwandan prisons there are tens, hundreds, and thousands of prisoners who have been innocently imprisoned for more than 10 years. There are leaders of political parties. The most recently sentenced to life imprisonment is Deo Mushayigi.
The release of Charles Ntakirutimana today should be considered as a claim by Kigali to the international community that Paul Kagame judiciary system works. When it sentences wrong doers, it releases them once they [innocent or not] have completed their time in prison.
The same way the imprisonment of the officially freed prisoner [as of other thousands] was politically motivated, his release is a political means to ease pressure that Kagame is under from the international community, and his opponents.