Condemned left and right across the world, Amnesty International has renewed calls on Kigali to ensure the polls are held in a peaceful atmosphere that allows Rwandans to freely express their views.
The assassinations of a journalist and an opposition politician both critical of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of President Paul Kagame has already caused fear among voters.
AI’s Africa Programme Deputy Director, Tawanda Hondora, insists Rwandan government must ensure thorough investigations into the killings, and reinstate closed media outlets.
On 14 July, André Kagwa Rwisereka, the vice president of the opposition Democratic Green Party, was found dead in Butare, southern Rwanda. Photographs obtained by AI showed that his head was severed from his body.
Rwisereka, who broke away from the RPF to create the Green Party, had earlier raised concerns for his security. Other members of his party had also confirmed receiving threats.
Despite international outcry, Rwandan police is yet to come public with any leads, and would not allow external investigators to chip in.
Ironically, all the main opposition parties were knocked out of the Monday’s polls. Both the Democratic Green Party and FDU-Inkingi were denied right to register their parties. PS-Imberakuri, a newly formed opposition party, alone secured registration but could not stand because its leader remains in custody. Arrested on 24 June, Bernard Ntaganda faces charges of genocide denial.
In addition, another opposition leader Victoire Ingabire who faces genocide related charges has had her trial stalled, a calculated attempt to throw her out of race.
Rwandan media is yet to recover from the June 24 killing of Jean-Leonard Rugambage in Kigali. The last remaining editor of the Umuvugizi newspaper had been investigating the shooting of an exiled former Rwandan general, Kayumba Nyamwasa, in South Africa.
His paper published a story linking Rwandan secret service to Nyamwasa’s shooting. Police arrested two suspects for Rugambage’s assassination, linking the case to revenge attack.