By BYANSI Samuel Baker
KIGALI – Rwanda’s president has on Wednesday 9th September warned a prominent opposition leader and others recently released from prison to be “humble” and “careful” or they’ll end up behind bars again.
President Paul Kagame made the comments while presiding over the swearing-in ceremony of 80 new members of parliament who will take office in the 4th house for the next five years.
The comment was his first public comment since the surprise weekend release, with no elucidation, of more than 2,100 prisoners including Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and Kizito Mihigo.
Kagame, whose government has denied accusations of muggy opposition, added that he was never under any pressure to release Ingabire: “It is not pressure we respond to, it is our own thoughts.” He said.
Ingabire, the FDU-Inkingi opposition party leader, said she never importuned for mercy, controverting a justice ministry statement last week that said she recently asked for leniency. She had been sentenced to 15 years behind bars.
Ingabire was convicted of conspiracy to undermine the government and of denying the country’s 1994 genocide, denies having committed any crime.
Shortly after her release, she urged Kagame to free all political prisoners including former presidential hopeful challenger Diane Shima Rwigara, who also has denied wrongdoing.
Kagame told the new legislature members that the “political stars” were freed because the government of the East African nation wants to work in synchronization with others.
“If we did not give leniency, how many people would still be in prison? We would still have 100 of thousands in jail,” the president said. “But to build our country we made the decision to rehabilitate our citizens and enable them to contribute.”
Ingabire has promised to continue speaking up for all Rwandans whose rights are allegedly abused by the government.