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Rwandan police detain Uwamahoro, wife of exiled opposition figure

Kigali, Rwanda | AFP | 

The wife of a member of Rwanda’s opposition in exile who went missing in the central African country two weeks ago, is in police custody accused of ties to a criminal network, her husband said Friday.

The Rwandan authorities “have acknowledged that they have Vilette in their custody and appear to be accusing her of working with criminals,” said Faustin Rukundo, who is married to Violette Uwamahoro, a dual citizen of Rwanda and Britain.

Rukundo told AFP that earlier the Rwandan officials “told the foreign office in the UK that they do not have Violette.”

He denied the purported charges against his wife and that she was involved in opposition politics, saying “the true thing is that they can never have evidence of Violette doing anything wrong”.

Uwamahoro, who has lived in Britain since 2004, has not been seen since February 14 when she was in Rwanda to attend her father’s funeral.

Rukundo is an official of the National Rwandan Congress (RNC), an opposition party in exile founded by former allies of President Paul Kagame, who has ruled Rwanda since 2000.

Contacted by AFP, a Rwandan police spokesman, Theos Badege, referred to his comments in the pro-government online journal KT Press.

It quoted Badege as saying that Uwamahoro was detained after police received information implicating her “in very serious criminal activites, including attempts to recruit people into a criminal network.”

A spokesman for the British foreign ministry told AFP that London was providing assistance to a Briton and her family following her arrest in Rwanda and was in contact with authoritiies there.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement Friday criticising the secret detentions in Rwanda over the past few years, often involving people suspected of ties to the opposition.

Rwanda will hold a presidential election in August and HRW said the country’s citizens must be able to participate without fear of being detained if they speak out.


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