Victoire Ingabire Blocked From Leaving Rwanda To “Visit Children”
Kigali: Opposition politician Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was Tuesday evening blocked at the Kigali International Airport as she prepared to leave the country. The police Criminal Investigations Department has also ordered her to report to its headquarters on Wednesday morning.
Police trailed her to the airport and denied her access at 1800hours where she found detectives waiting. She was apparently told by top police detective Tony Kuramba that she cannot leave the country due to an ongoing investigation over several cases, was handed a written summon.
The yet-to-be registered United Democratic Forces Inkingi chief has been left to stay in her home in Kinyinya – an upscale suburb of Kigali. The latest development comes after Ms. Ingabire on Monday directly petitioned President Paul Kagame accusing several government officials and laying out her demands.
Sources say Police detectives pounced on the vocal politician as she reached the airport and had already secured an air ticket. It was not immediately clear where she was heading but says she was going to the Netherlands to visit her children and husband.
Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo was quick to appear on state radio about 30 minutes later after the incident saying Ms. Ingabire had been refused from exiting the country on the basis of ongoing investigations.
The Police Criminal Investigations Department has summoned Ingabire several times previously on alleged links to Rwandan FDLR rebels; negating the Genocide and controversial comments she made on arrival from exile on January 16 at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center.
“Usually, somebody does not just leave a country when they are under investigation,” said Minister Mushikiwabo, adding, “…that is the norm even in countries where she lived.”
The Minister said Ms. Ingabire was trying to “skip existing laws” – which prompted the Police to detain her, but also emphasized that the vocal government critic is at her home, not in detention.
However, speculation is rife as to where Ingabire could have been travelling, or why she chose this particular moment to leave the country. Police has now ordered her to report at its headquarters in Kacyiru but no timeline was provided apart from Wednesday.
In the coming days, according to the Minister, the FDU Inkingi chief will “appear before the Police where she will explain her motives”.
Petition to President Kagame
The country’s top diplomat accused Ingabire of behaving like the “country’s laws do not concern her ever since she arrived” from exile – which is why she is under probe. The law apparently requires she gets permission from the authorities before traveling out of the country.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the embattled opposition politician wrote to President Paul Kagame asking him “as the guarantor of the Constitution” to order state institutions to “remain neutral” in handling critics like her.
In a three-page letter, the FDU Inkingi boss among other concerns accuses the Minister of Local Government Mr. James Musoni of “openly” violating the law by verbally refusing her to hold a party conference when she has not been convicted. Ms Ingabire also names Nyarugenge district Mayor Ms. Theophila Nyirahonora who vowed two weeks ago never to allow FDU meetings on her territory as long as its boss still has cases to answer with the authorities.
Ms. Ingabire also says that since FDLR combatants are being enticed to lay down their arms and return home, there was no need to “witch-hunt” her. However, she also tries to distance herself from the group – accused in Kigali of executing the Tutsi Genocide, later fleeing to neighbouring DR Congo.
The FDU Inkingi is also asking the Head of State to use his office to order the relevant institutions to allow it to hold what they describe as a “Constitutional congress in accordance with applicable laws and without any further hindrance from the government.”
“Excellence Mr. President, All the above developments clearly show that the political process without your ultimate intervention and arbitration is derailing,” writes Ingabire, in the open letter, in which she makes six demands.
The Police say there is nothing unusual with Ingabire being blocked from leaving the country. Her travel will depend on the progress of her interrogation on Wednesday, said Police Spokesman Superintendent Eric Kayiranga.