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Africa

Rwandan opposition leader loses appeal against four-year prison sentence

media Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Paris in September Reuters/Philippe Wojazer (

Rwanda's Supreme Court on Friday rejected an appeal by opposition politician, Bernard Ntaganda, against a four-year prison sentence for allegedly stirring up ethnic hatred and undermining the country's security.

Ntaganda, the president of Rwanda’s Ideal Social Party, was convicted last year of endangering national security, inciting ethnic divisions and attempting to organise demonstrations without authorisation.

Ntaganda’s party was the only one of three new opposition parties that succeeded in registering ahead of Rwanda’s 2010 presidential elections.

Ntaganda had announced plans to run in those elections but he was arrested at dawn on the first day that presidential candidates could register and he has been detained ever since.

His conviction has been condemned by both US-based Human Rights Watch and UK-based Amnesty International who say the charges agains him are politically motivated.

According to the indictment against him, Ntaganda made public statements criticising government policies and the special Gacaca courts created to try genocide suspects, saying that some judges ruled against people based on their ethnicity.

In those statements Ntaganda is alleged to have referred to Rwanda’s ruling RPF party using a controversial expression in Kinyarwanda which, roughly translated, means "Put down what you are carrying and share it, or we will destroy it."

Prosecutors said that statement was meant to incite violence against those in power.

President Paul Kagame won reelection in 2010 with 93 per cent of the vote.

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