Sources in Kigali confirmed to AfroAmerica Network that Diane Shima Rwigara, a leading critic of Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame has been arrested along with relatives, including her mother and siblings.
Diane Rwigara's father, Assinapol Rwigara, a wealthy business man, was killed in 2015, in a suspicious car crash. The relatives have accused Paul Kagame's operatives of assassination.
Diane Rwigara's arrest had been earlier disclosed to the media by her brother. According to the brother, witnesses saw the Rwandan Police taking her and everybody else who was there, including the mother, a sister, and two brothers, putting everybody in handcuffs and taking things in the house indiscriminately, including phones, computers, and jewelry.
Police spokesperson Theos Badege denied the arrest but confirmed to AfroAmerican Network correspondent in Kigali that officers went to Diane's family home in Kigali with a search warrant, in connection with accusations of tax evasion on the family owned tabacco businesses.
AfroAmerica Network correspondent in Kigali has tried to reach the phones of Diane Rwigara and family members without success.
Assinapol Rwigara had been trading in tabacco businesses for more than three decades. He was among the prominent Rwandan businessmen who joined and funded the rebellion that eventually led to the current regime run by the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). A few years after the rebellion took power in 1994, he became disillusioned and started criticizing the ruling RPF elite. The RPF government then ordered the seizure of some of his properties, accusing him of operating without proper permits. He was subsequently killed in the suspicious car crash, that the family blames on the current government operatives.
Following the death of her father, Diane Rwigara, a 35-year-old accountant, started openly criticizing the government. She pointed to the growing poverty of the masses, the repressive regime, the oppression of the government critics, and the absolute dictatorship imposed by Rwandan Patriotic Front, with Paul Kagame at the helm.
She then launched a campaign to run for president in the August 2017 presidential elections. However, although she presented all the required documents, she was barred by the Electoral Commission from standing in the elections. The Electoral Commission, which is a front of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, alleged that she had failed to get enough signatures from her supporters and some of the names submitted were of dead people.
Diane Rwigara denied the allegations by the Electoral Commission. She vowed to continue the struggle and created a new political party. Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame, without the sole credible opponent, won the elections, with 98.8 percent, in a process he had labelled "a formality".
The dismissal of Diane Rwigara's candidacy has been widely condemned by the U.S. Government, the European Union, and other independent organizations. It was also viewed by critics as another low for the regime that touts itself of promoting women, with more than 60% of the member of the parliament being women. The two women who tried to challenge Paul Kagame in elections have been imprisonned, just before or after elections. Victoire Ingabire tried for August 2010 elections but was arrested in April 2010 and formally imprisonned in October 2010. She is now serving a 15 years sentence, accused of "forming an armed group with the aim of destabilising the country, complicity to acts of terrorism, conspiracy against the government by use of war and terrorism, inciting the masses to revolt against the government, genocide ideology and divisionism."
The Rwandan Dictator Paul Kagame has managed to use the wealth looted during the repetitive invasions of the the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the massive aid from international organizations and Western governments to fund powerful lobbies and media presence in the West. The lobbying and public relations campaigns mixed with distorted economic statistics have won him international praise for economic achievements. However, Diane Rwigara and other Rwandan political leaders and government critics have pointed to the distortions and showed that the so called economic miracle are in reality a smokescreen, with the elite in the capital Kigali being wealthy and the masses being extremely poor. Made up economic indicators figures by Rwandan civil servants are often used to promote the false success story.
Strong criticisms have emerged with increasing number of assassinations and disappearances of political opponents, widespread government abuses, a muzzling of independent media, and suppression of political opposition. The United Nations has, in 2009, published a repport, known as the DRC Mapping Exercise Report, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo 1993-2003, alleging that between 1993- 2003, Paul Kagame and his government have systematically massacred Congolese civilians and Rwandan refugees, in acts that qualify as genocide and war crimes. Independent organizations have estimated that Paul Kagame and his government have killed more than 5 millions civilians during the period.