Reactions to the sentencing of Rwandan opposition leader

In Kigali today October 30, 2012 the Rwandan High Court sentenced to
eight years of jail Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the coalition of opposition parties FDU-Inkingi. She has been remanded in prison since October 14, 2010. She has thirty days to appeal to her sentence.

On the same day as her sentencing, Kigali hosted the Seventh edition of the African Economic Conference (AEC) with the theme of “Fostering Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Africa in an Age of Global Economic Uncertainty.”

The Rwandan president Paul Kagame attended the conference. It was surprising to listen to speakers stressing the issue of good governance, inclusiveness, and democratic and independent institutions, knowing that in the same city of Kigali, the most significant personality of the Rwandan political opposition to the regime had just been sentenced almost at the same time.

During the day, I scrolled twitter in the hours that followed and found the following comments from different people about the sentencing of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and some other related issues in the Rwandan capital Kigali.    

Lionel Kpenou-Chobli ‏@lionelchobli #Rwanda : Avec ca on est surs qu’elle est hors jeu de la succession de #Kagame. 8 ans de prison carrément. [Translation – #Rwanda: with that we are certain she is out the competition against #Kagame. Seriously 8 years of imprisonment.]

MarkLGoldberg ‏@MarkLGoldberg Creeping authoritarianism. RT @astroehlein#Rwanda opposition leader @VictoireUmuhoza jailed 

Presidency | Rwanda ‏@UrugwiroVillage President #Kagame#Rwanda cannot be undemocratic when empowering women, given them rights women don’t have in countries that give lessons

Ruth Kang’ong’oi ‏@ckangongoi #Rwanda jails Hutu opposition leader Victoire Ingabire for 8 yrs for treason and denying genocide..same years as the guy who stole my phone.

Blair Glencorse ‏@blairglencorse Not good news for #democracy in #Africa MT @BBCWorld Opposition leader #Ingabire jailed for treason in #Rwanda 

africamedia_cpj ‏@africamedia_CPJ Paul #Kagame talks about inclusive development. Fact: In #Rwanda, only Kagame & his supporters enjoy freedom of expression#2012AEC

Daniel Howden ‏@howden_africa #Rwanda opposition leader @VictoireUmuhoza sentenced to 8yrs for genocide Ideology & conspiracy. Jailed for running against@PaulKagame

Fred Mwasa ‏@mwasa #Rwanda High Court rules Victoire #Ingabire given only of 8yrs because she sent hand-written letter to Pres #Kagame asking for leniency

africamedia_cpj ‏@africamedia_CPJ UNDP chief Helen Clark acknowledged “transformational leadership.” host #Rwanda‘s poor #humanrights record is elephant in room.#2012AEC

Government of Rwanda ‏@RwandaGov “Human development is at the forefront of our discussions during this conference” -Helen Clark @HelenClarkUNDP #2012AEC #Rwanda

Presidency | Rwanda ‏@UrugwiroVillage UNDP Administrator Helen Clark: #Rwanda has led the way in giving women equal opportunity #2012AEC

Vincent Harris ‏@coloredopinions #Dutch ambassador helped rig elections #Rwanda , now we have#Dutch #UNDP director @AukeLootsma promoting #Kagame on day of #Ingabire ruling

Victoire Ingabire U. ‏@VictoireUmuhoza #Rwanda 8 years for saying nothing than the #Truth! Which part of#Ingabire’s speech is evidence of divisionism? …

UN Development ‏@UNDP #Rwanda is an inspiration 4 many countries, looking at achievements considering its past history – @HelenClarkUNDP v@UNDP_Rwanda

Vincent Harris ‏@coloredopinions great timing of #UNDP #Rwanda to have Helen Clark shake hands with bloodsoaked criminal Paul Kagame while Victoire Ingabire gets 8 years

Sander Lelieveld ‏@sanderlelieveld Justice will always win in the end. But justice is having hard times….#Victoire #Ingabire #Rwanda …

Armin Rosen ‏@ArminRosen @HayesBrown @CassVinograd She was facing life in prison. Kagame went easy on her, possibly out of international political concerns.

Nkunda Rwanda ‏@Rwandankunda So Kagame’s is not necessarily easy on her. He wants to lock her out of the next elections! @ArminRosen @HayesBrown @CassVinograd#Rwanda

Rédaction AfriqueRNW ‏@RNWAfrique  Qui est la plus dangereuse ? La ‘terroriste’ Victoire #Ingabire ou ces journalistes #Rwanda  [Translation – Who is the most dangerous? ‘Terrorist’ Victoire #Ingabire or those journalists]

RNWAfrica Without international pressure, my mother’s situation would be worse #Ingabire imprisoned for 8 years #Rwanda 

Nkunda Rwanda ‏@Rwandankunda Kagame had promised to “give the lady hell”. He is now “leniently” using the courts to lock #Ingabire out of political life. #Rwanda

Grace Atuhaire ‏@graceseb #Ngabire charged 8 years in prison! Who believes in #Rwanda‘s#Justice system?

Nkunda Rwanda ‏@Rwandankunda Let’s get it straight. #Ingabire is not sentenced for her views or ideologies. Her only crime is attempting to challenge #Kagame#Rwanda

Nkunda Rwanda ‏@Rwandankunda @ArminRosen My worry is that oppression in #Rwanda is so accepted as the norm that sentence of 8 years for no crime is viewed as lenient.

Baker Mayambala ‏@LeadAfricaUg Kagame had promised to “give the lady hell”. He is now “leniently” using the courts to lock #Ingabire out of political life. #Rwanda

ruzibukira alex ‏@ruzibukira #Rwanda. Ingabire being handed over 8years is way below International standards. In #Germany #Hollocaust denials get max jail sentence: 14yrs

John Moore ‏@JohnFMoore RT @Rwandankunda: It is quite clear that the problems in the #DRCwill never be resolved until we reform #Rwanda‘s internal politics.

Roman @ubumanzi BTW,#Genocide in #Rwanda was much worse than what you saw in Hotel Rwanda. Much worse. So think again before you cry out for#Ingabire!

Deco Dieudonee @Decolanga #Ingabirejailing has been politically instigated by the @RwandaGov I hope that the lawyer representing her appeal at @ACHPR #Rwanda

Members of her political party I spoke to after the sentencing say that overall the punishment is no more than a political act from the Rwandan regime, act that falls in the general strategy of keeping out personalities from the opposition from challenging Paul Kagame’s authority. FDU-Inkingi is calling all Rwandans to be  more mobilised and determined towards peaceful political change in their country.


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