In a surprising Presidential pardon Paul Kagame, Rwandan Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire leader of the FDU-Inkingi Opposition Party, who was serving a 15-year sentence for conspiring against the government and genocide denial, was released along with 2140 prisoners without any accompanying explanation.
Ingabire expressed thanks to the President Kagame for the pardon and urged him to release all other political prisoners and said, “This is the beginning of the opening of political space in Rwanda”.
The Justice Minister of Rwanda, Johnston Businge said on Ingabire release that, “There is nothing political about her release, there is nothing political about her imprisonment. The President has granted mercy, and under the Constitution, he is allowed to do that”.
Ingabire was arrested in 2010 after she had returned from exile in Netherlands on accusations of genocide denial. She planned to run for Presidential elections but was barred from contesting. She was sentenced in 2012. The charges were called as being politically motivated by various Human Rights organisations and was criticized.
President Kagame has bagged international praise for tremendous economic progress in the country but has also been condemned for his suppression of press and media. Kagame has been in office for over 18 years.