Rwanda: Women's rights activist to run for president

AP News
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Posted: May 04, 2017 12:39 PM

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — A Rwandan women's rights activist said Thursday she will challenge President Paul Kagame in the August election, taking a rare public stand against alleged government abuses from inside the country.

The 35-year-old Diane Rwigara is declaring her presidential ambitions more than two years after her father, a prominent businessman, was killed in what police called a car accident, even as the family cited foul play.

Assinapol Rwigara's family had petitioned Kagame to launch an independent investigation into his death.

Diane Rwigara told The Associated Press that many Rwandans have disappeared without a trace and others have died in unclear circumstances.

It is unusual for an activist to speak out inside Rwanda against alleged human rights abuses by the government. Most do so while in exile.

The government of this small East African nation has faced persistent accusations of abuses despite its reputation for economic growth and stability.

Kagame became president in 2000 after being Rwanda's de facto leader since the end of the country's genocide in 1994. He has been credited for the nation's recovery, but critics say he is an authoritarian ruler who does not tolerate opposition.

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In January, Kagame declared he would run for a third seven-year term in office. The announcement followed a constitutional referendum in which 98 percent of Rwandans voted to approve a revised constitution to allow Kagame to extend his rule.

The United States, a key Rwandan ally, has opposed Kagame's bid to stay in power.