Rwanda Runup to Elections: Grenade Attacks, Arrest and Assassination Threats

On Feb. 19, grenades exploded at a bus station, a restaurant, and a building site in Kigali, Rwanda, in the tense run up to Rwanda’s 2010 presidential election on August 9th. Opposition candidates reported threats of arrest and assassination.

Since this KMEC Radio News report, leading presidential candidate Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, of the FDU-Inking Party, has requested temporary refugee status at the UK Embassy in Kigali. Frank Habineza, President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, has also asked the Rwandan Government to protect him from an assassination plot reported on Feb. 22 by Umuseso, one of the last Rwandan newspapers independent of the Rwandan Government. Umuseso publishes in Kinyarwanda, the African language shared by all Rwandans, who are otherwise largely divided between French and English speakers.

During the same week, Paris-based Reporters without Borders protested state repression of Umuseso, whose publisher and acting editor were, with an Umuseso reporter, sentenced to prison terms and fines for reporting on an alleged romantic affair between two senior government officials.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy was, at the same time, on a diplomatic mission to Rwanda, so Reporters without Borders called on him to call for press freedom there, as reported by the Voice of America. Sarkozy instead turned his attention to restoring ties that France and Rwanda severed over disputed histories of the Rwanda Genocide of 1994.

Articles by: Ann Garrison

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