Dutch minister tackles Rwandas Kagame on opposition leader

15th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Development Aid Minister Ben Knapen has held talks with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. The Dutch minister called for opposition leader Victoire Ingabire to be given a fair trial. She lived in the Netherlands for 16 years and was arrested when she returned to Rwanda in 2010.

Mr Kagame said that he could not influence the trial due to the independence of the Rwandan judiciary. Mr Knapen, who is on a two-day visit to Rwanda, described his discussions with the president as frank.

Ms Ingabire’s lawyer says she is accused of plotting to overthrow the government but refutes the charge as a politically motivated fabrication. Mr Knapen earlier said that the fact she is not a Dutch citizen makes it more difficult for the Netherlands to champion the opposition leader’s case.

Worries Despite not going into the legal details of the case with the president, Mr Knapen did voice worries about the political room given to the opposition and freedom of speech and the press in Rwanda. He said Mr Kagame appeared to take what he said seriously.

The Dutch minister also had praise for the economic progress booked by Rwanda, and its battle against poverty. He was also positive about the improvement in the country’s investment climate and its tackling of corruption. Dutch development aid to Rwanda helps fund projects in areas including agriculture, infrastructure, and justice.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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