Rwandan President Pardons Jailed Opposition Leader

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has pardoned jailed opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.

A cabinet statement issued Friday evening announced the pardon, part of an early release for 1,140 convicts.

Another person who received a pardon by the president was popular musician Kizito Mihigo.

The cabinet statement said the "sentences were commuted by presidential prerogative" following the convicts' most recent applications for clemency in June.

It noted that Rwanda's constitution gives the president "authority to exercise the prerogative of mercy in accordance with the procedures provided for by law and after consultation with the Supreme Court."

Ingabire, who was sentenced in 2013, was serving 15 years on charges of terrorism. Human Rights Watch said the charges against Ingabire, who was trying to challenge Kagame in the 2010 elections, were politically motivated.

Ingabire was accused of collaborating with the mainly Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group operating in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Kagame's government has often accused the FDLR of playing a part in the country's 1994 genocide in which hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were killed in a 100-day massacre.

Ingabire had always denied the charges against her.

Mihigo was sentenced to 10 years in 2015 for conspiring against the government.

Mihigo, a Tutsi survivor of Rwanda's 1994 genocide, was well-known for singing the national anthem at official ceremonies. The year of his arrest, he released a song called Meaning of Death that was banned by the authorities, apparently for touching on sensitive issues about the genocide.

Source: Voice of America

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