Rwandan court drops all charges against opposition figure

Ms Rwigara says she was targeted by the state

The pair faced up to 22 years in prison for the charges in the case that drew global attention to the East African country. "I am continuing with my political journey. because there's still a lot that needs to be done in our country".

Her attempt to stand against Kagame in the last presidential poll in August 2017 was blocked after she was accused of not submitting enough supporters' signatures and submitted some that were forged.

On Tuesday, a commission of the US House of Representatives held a briefing on human rights and political prisoners in Rwanda, drawing attention to the Rwigaras.

"Diane and Adeline Rwigara should never have faced charges for expressing their views", said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty's regional director.

Rwigara together with her mother Adeline Mukangemanyi have been under incarceration over charges of inciting insurrection and forgery as allegedly discovered by the National Electoral Commission during the evaluation of nominations for the presidential elections held past year.

She launched an activist group called the People Salvation Movement to challenge the Kagame regime to ensure human rights.

US senators in recent days urged the Rwandan government to drop the charges against her.

The activist ran for president in 2017
Image The activist ran for president in 2017

Rwanda's justice minister and attorney general in a statement said the government respects the verdict and "will carefully study its implications".

Speaking to The Associated Press ahead of her court appearance, Rwigara remained defiant, saying no amount of pressure will silence her.

Ms Rwigara already spent one year in prison after being barred from running in presidential elections against the long-standing incumbent Paul Kagame. "I hope to be cleared of all these made-up charges but I am ready for any outcome", she said, calling the courts unpredictable and lacking independence. "There are still many political prisoners in the country".

Diane Rwigara has repeatedly accused President Paul Kagame of stifling dissent and criticised his Rwandan Patriotic Front's unyielding grip on power.

Kagame is praised for leading Rwanda's recovery from the 1994 genocide and for advances in economic development and women's rights, but critics say he does not tolerate criticism.

A panel of three judges ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove that Rwigara had personally forged signatures.

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