On Thursday Dec 6, 2018, exactly 2 months after they were released from jail on bail, Diane Shima Rwigara, a leading critic of Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame and opposition leader, was acquitted of all charges, along with her mother Adeline Mukamugemanyi-Rwigara.
Diane Rwigara, a 37-years old accountant who is AfroAmerica Network Woman of Year 2017 (here), was expected to be acquitted following an intensive worldwide campaign, especially the condemnation of appalling widespread human rights abuses in Rwanda by a group of members of the US Congress including Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri; Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont; and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California.
Diane Rwigara has consistently maintained that the charges against her were politically motivated and fabricated when she tried to run against Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame in the 2017 elections.
Before the court decision, Diane Rwigara told the media that she was confident she will be acquitted of the trumped up and fabricated charges.
The Rwandan High Court ruled that both Diane Rwigara and her mother Adeline Mukamugemanyi-Rwigara were innocent from all charges and that the accusations were baseless and without merit.
However, Rwandan courts usually rule based on directives from the Rwandan political and military leaders. According to observers and sources within the Rwandan government and the military, on most highly visible political or sensitive cases, the courts await for the directives from the Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame. Hence, General Paul Kagame may have felt the pressure from the US Congress and government.
The Rwandan government, known for its widespread bloody repression, systematic killings and disappearances of political opposition leaders and critics, has been under mounting pressure over Rwigara’s arrest on fabricated charges. Diane Rwigara tried to challenge General Paul Kagame in last year’s election but was disqualified over allegations that she forged some signatures on her nomination papers. She was later accused of and charged with inciting resistance and leading an insurrectional movement.
Observers had long expected that Diane Rwigara will be acquitted, pointing to the mounting international pressure to democratize the country, the prospects of civil war, and heightened conflicts with all neighboring countries, especially Burundi, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
After the acquittal, Adele and Diane Rwigara were joyfully greeted by a crowd of relatives and supporters who had gathered to welcome them, before they left in a van, singing christian songs. Diane Rwigara has confirmed that she will continue her political engagement.