Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Missing Rwanda opposition leader found beheaded

KIGALI - The vice president of the opposition Democratic Green Party Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, who was reported to be missing on Monday, has been found dead according to a top party official.

Frank Habineza, the party's president, said on Tuesday that his deputy’s body was found lying near a wetland in Butare. Mr Habineza said that he could not confirm the cause of his death. "I can confirm that he was found dead this morning. His brother called Antoine Haguma was at the scene and identified the body. The body was found 2km from Rwanda National University an area which is about 4km from a wetland called River Mukula,” Habineza said. "His head had been cut off. Until now we don’t know the cause of the death. We can’t confirm the cause but we have approached the relevant authorities and asked them to help in all possible ways.”

Mr Rwisereka went missing on Monday after his car was found abandoned near the southern city of Butare. Police had earlier confirmed that Rwisereka's pick-up truck had been found. The Democratic Green Party is one of Rwanda’s political parties that is yet to be registered for the country’s presidential elections on August 9. Rights groups have accused the government of tightening the screw ahead of a presidential election in August with two opposition leaders being arrested in the run-up to the vote.

According to critics the arrest of two opposition leaders, the suspension of two newspapers and the murder of a critical journalist are signs of an increasing clampdown. However, the government in Kigali has said that some genuine incidents have been politicised. According to government officials there has been an effort to pursue dialogue with the opposition and there is an increased acceptance of opposing views since the 1994 genocide.
Police have also arrested two journalists for articles that they said could rekindle ethnic hatred and incite public disorder. However authorities say strict anti-genocide legislation is necessary to avoid a repeat of the bloodshed 16 years ago.

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