It was a long battle and it was fierce, but Diane Rwigara and her mother get the last laugh over Rwandan president, Paul Kagame.
Diane Rwigara is the daughter of late business tycoon, Assinapol Rwigara - an 'ally turned enemy' of President Paul Kagame, who died under questionable circumstances after a car accident in 2015. Rwigara and her mother were in police custody for about a year until their bail last month. Now they have finally regained freedom after all cases against them were thrown out by a high court in Rwanda.
Diane Rwigara is a strong critic of President Kagame - a man she believes has a hand in the death of her father. She was set to run against the president in the last 2017 elections, becoming the first female independent presidential candidate in the country.
After she declared her intentions to run against the most powerful man in the country, her life never remained the same.
She woke up a few days later to see her nude pictures released all over the internet - a ploy to deter her from contesting for the presidential seat.
Surprisingly, she held a press conference not to deny that the photos were fake nor to question the source, but rather to inform Rwandans and indeed the entire world of her increased determination to dethrone Kagame and eradicate poverty in the country.
As part of the requirements to run for president, Diane was asked to submit a document containing 600 signatures of people who were in support of her political ambitions.
Diane submitted all the documents required and became the fourth aspirant after Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and two independent hopefuls Gilbert Mwenedata and Fred Sekikubo Barafinda. The National Electoral Commission however declined her application. INEC claimed Diane had 572 signatures and also produced recommendations from people who they believed had died.
She was later arrested along side her mother for what the government said was for treason, forgery and instigating a tribal crisis.
They spent about a year in detention and after back and forth court cases, were released on bail last month.
Yesterday, Diane Rwigara and her mother Adeline were acquitted on all charges brought against them.
The news came as a welcome development to human rights organizations around the world with Amnesty International's Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Joan Nyanyuki saying:
"Diane and Adeline Rwigara should never have faced charges for expressing their views. While we welcome their discharge and acquittal, we are concerned that the right to freedom of expression remains under attack in Rwanda.
"We call on the Rwandan authorities to build on this judgment and work towards developing greater tolerance and acceptance of alternative and critical views. The judgment must be a first step in reversing the ongoing trend of repression in Rwanda."
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