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Worrying signs in Kigali

Jean-Leonard Rugambage, the editor of the Umuvugizi newspaper in Kigali, was gunned down in front of his home on Thursday. A man came up to his car as he was driving into his gate and shot him in the head and chest, killing him immediately. Umuvugizi has been banned in Rwanda for several months, but Rugambage had published an article online that morning, saying that the Rwandan government had ordered the assassination of General Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa.

As several newspapers have reminded us, violent crime is very rare in Kigali.

This is not the first attack on Umuvugizi. In 2007, another editor, Jean-Bosco Gasasira, was attacked and almost killed by a band of assailants after speaking out against harassment of the press. Gasasira is now in Uganda; he insists that the government killed his colleague.

The same day, the Rwandan government rounded up numerous opposition figures, including Bernard Ntaganda, the leader of the PS-Imberakuri, along with several other of his party’s officials. There have been charges against Ntaganda related to an arson attack against the leader of a dissident faction of his party, Christine Mukabunani, although it isn’t clear if this was the reason he was detained.

A number of officials from the FDU-Inkingi, Victoire Ingabire’s party, were also detained on the same day after they had protested against the case charging their president with genocide denialism.

Most have been released again, although Ntaganda and several FDU officials remain in detention.

Meanwhile, sources in Burundi also indicate that several Rwandans in that country have been arrested by the intelligence services and extradited to Rwanda without following legal due process. This includes a certain Innocent Karuta. The sources suggest that they are accused of involvement in the grenade attacks in Kigali.

These are all very worrying signs just over a month away from the elections.

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