People Salvation Movement

Rwandan scholars defend political environment on trial against former presidential aspirant

Kigali, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) — Rwandan scholars defend the political environment in the central African country on the trial of former presidential aspirant Diane Rwigara for forgery and inciting insurrection.

The verdict of the case,in which her mother Adeline Rwigara was co-accused, is expected on December. 6. On the other hand, the businesswoman, who failed to fulfill all the requirements for being nominated as a candidate in 2017 presidential election, alleged that the charges are political motivated, according to some media reports.

The former presidential aspirant, who was unknown in Rwandan politics until last year’s presidential election, has drawn attention of some overseas media since her announcement of the intention of running for the presidency.

Rwandan foreign minister Richard Sezibera said earlier this month in a tweet that Rwigara is not facing jail for “speaking up”, but for activities “deemed criminal under Rwandan laws.”

Later, Rwandan president Paul Kagame told media on the sidelines of the Paris Peace Forum that the justice of Rwanda “works freely.”

Rwanda has political pluralism with several political parties being represented in the parliament, and it has developed an equal political system to include women in decision making in its political system, said Ismael Buchanan, Dean of the School of Economics and Governance at the University of Rwanda.

Anyone can make a political statement in Rwanda as long as he or she abides by the law, Buchanan told Xinhua.

“Today’s Rwanda is characterized by equality and the rule of law,” he said, noting that the country has reconciled its population and built unity, and continues to register progress in every aspect.

Rwanda’s political environment is stable and has played a central role in the economic transformation of the country, he added.

There is positive development in Rwanda’s political environment, as a number of opposition political parties like the Social Democratic Party and the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda have representatives in the parliament, said Christopher Kayumba, senior lecturer of School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Rwanda.

Kayumba added that many legislators in the parliament are women,

Rwanda is a stable country with a stable political environment, which is why the country is attracting huge foreign investments that has accelerated its economic growth, Kayumba told Xinhua.

For Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, researcher and writer on politics and public affairs, the country’s political environment is of “a very particular kind.”

The researcher added that it is “a guided and consensus-driven democracy” that is governed by rules and conventions agreed by various political forces after the liberation struggle in 1990s and the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Although the consensus allows for various freedom, there are also limits of these freedom for reasons related the government’s determination to maintain peace, promote unity and cohesion, while also for preventing the re-emergence of divisions and contestation that past instability, war and ultimately the genocide are attributed, he said.

The 1994’s genocide claimed about 1 million lives, mostly ethnic Tutsis.

Scholars also talked about tendencies that some media reports on the case have shown.

Reporting of the Rwigara’s case and others involving politicians or political activists is prone to simplification, whereby media reduce the matters involved to “political persecution,” said Golooba-Mutebi.

Politicians or political activists may be accused of prosecutable offences that have nothing directly to do with politics, but instantly their trials are portrayed as politically motivated because of their association with opposing or criticizing the government, he said, adding that this applies to the case of Rwigara.

The public is misinformed by some media reports on the case, said Gatete Nyiringabo Ruhumuliza, a research fellow of governance.

The political environment in the country is stable, but some media prefer not to focus on actual development policies of the country, he said.

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