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Critic of Rwandan president to face criminal trial on Friday

KIGALI – A critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame will appear in court on Friday charged with inciting insurrection and forgery, the prosecutor’s office said on Thursday.

Diane Shima Rwigara, a 35-year-old accountant, is the latest political opponent of Kagame to face criminal charges. She was barred from contesting the presidency in an August election he won with 98.8 percent of the vote.

She has repeatedly accused him of stifling dissent and criticized his Rwandan Patriotic Front’s tight grip on the country since it fought its way to power to end a genocide that killed more than 800,000 people in 1994.

“The Court will examine the serious grounds justifying provisional detention of the suspects,” the prosecutor’s office said on Twitter. The office noted that the other two suspects to appear in court are Rwigara’s mother Adeline and sister Anne.

The three women have been in detention for around two weeks. They were first taken from their home in the Rwandan capital on Aug. 30 on tax evasion allegations related to the family’s tobacco company. That charge was not listed in those filed on Tuesday.

Kagame has been widely praised for restoring stability in Rwanda and presiding over a rapid economic recovery after the genocide in the East African nation.

But human rights groups say he has muzzled independent media and suppressed potential democratic opponents. Some critics of the government have been imprisoned or killed.

Rwanda last month charged another opposition official and eight others with forming an armed group and seeking to overthrow the government.

“With each arrest in Rwanda, fewer and fewer people will dare to speak out against state policy or abuse,” read a Human Rights Watch in a report released last month.

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