Grenade Attack In Rwanda Capital Following Questionable Election

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[Global: Africa]

"The question now is how long is the life expectancy of an opposition leader in Kigali?" Ingabire Umuhoza wonders

Days after a presidential election that was widely mocked by supporters of major opposition figures --including one under house arrest-- Rwanda's capital of Kigali was today rocked by explosions and gunfire that caused fatalities and injuries, sources said.

Rwanda remains a firm U.S. ally and the Obama Administration has pursued a cautious approach even after human rights organizations condemned attacks on opposition politicians and the media in the months leading to the Monday election.

The international community finds it difficult to determine an adequate balance in the amount of pressure to apply fearing a chain of reactions that could spark the kind of bloodletting of 1994. Critics contend President Paul Kagame abuses this concern.

An intelligence service source in Rwanda, in an SMS message to this reporter has said that two explosions believed to have been grenades went off at Rubangura Bus park, the biggest transport hub in the city centre and gunfire was heard around the city. The numbers wounded couldn't be immediately verified but the intelligence source placed the figure at 25 from the blast.  The BBC placed the numbers injured at seven.

Three people were reported dead in Nyamirabo, a Kigali suburb. Prior to this development, election results were announced in favor of President Kagame with 93% of the votes cast to secure another seven-year term.

After earlier blasts this year in Kigali, the government accused former army and intelligence chiefs who are now exiled of being the masterminds, including former army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa and his colleague ex-spy chief, Col. Patrick Kalyegeya. Both are exiled in South Africa. Nyamwasa recently survived a botched attempted assassination in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Some observers question the validity of the Rwanda election. Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the United Democratic Forces (UDF) Inkingi, was denied an opportunity to contest and remains under restricted living conditions after returning to the country from 16 years in exile. Her party was not allowed to register for the election. She herself can't leave the country as her travel document was confiscated by Rwandan authorities.

“I am a victim of a dictatorship," Ingabire Umuhoza said, in an earlier interview with The Black Star. "I have no rights in my country. I have no chance to see my children and my husband, still in exile in Europe. I am under house arrest and the regime's judiciary has refused to take me to court alleging that the prosecution is still gathering the evidence. I receive almost every day, death threats.”

She added: “The state police makes sure I remain in almost a total quarantine. They have now started a campaign of pressure on estate owners in order to make sure I have no home to rent. For example my previous landlord canceled our tenancy agreement because of serious death threats from security services. On 17th July 2010, I moved to another house and two days later the owner explained that his safety is more important. Recently we invited journalists for a press conference and all the hotels canceled our bookings at the last minute."

She noted: “The question now is how long is the life expectancy of an opposition leader in Kigali?”

Seperately, the president of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda Frank Habineza notes: "Now that the Presidential elections are over, we need to have sustainable peace and sustainable development. We need to solve all these pending problems in order to properly move forward. The election was conducted in such a way that many Rwandans were covered in a big blanket of fear. The absence of the real opposition in the elections remains a fundamental concern that the Government of Rwanda should not attempt to ignore. The international community should not abandon the people of Rwanda in this very hour of great need."

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

For free classes in guerrilla journalism taught by Black Star News Publisher Milton Allimadi, call (347) 257-7330 or just show up with a pen and notebook or laptop every Monday from 6PM-8PM at True South Bookstore at 492 in Brooklyn's BedStuy neighborhood.

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