Rwanda opposition figure on hunger strike after rape arrest

Tuesday September 14 2021
afri07pix

Christopher Kayumba. PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY

By AFP

A well-known university professor and opposition figure arrested for alleged rape has launched a hunger strike to protest against the "politically motivated" accusations, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Christopher Kayumba was detained on Thursday after the allegations were made by several people, including a former student, according to the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB).

"He started a hunger strike after he was arrested and has made a decision to continue the hunger strike until the politically motivated charges are dropped," his lawyer Seif Ntirenganya told AFP.

"It is funny that all these allegations came up immediately after he had made his political ambitions public." 

Kayumba, a former Kigali journalism school lecturer, runs an online newspaper called The Chronicles and in March launched a political party in opposition to President Paul Kagame.

Ntirenganya said his client, who has denied the accusations against him, was taken to hospital without his consent on Monday for a medical examination.

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"His health status is not so good. He looked weak and frail yesterday. But he has vowed to fight these allegations," he added.

Ntirenganya said Kayumba, 47, had refused to submit to the medical tests because he feared any samples could be used against him.

The lawyer said Kayumba was now back in prison and that he planned to visit him later on Tuesday.

Kayumba was arrested in December 2019 and sentenced to a year in jail for "public disturbance" after airport security refused to allow him to travel to Nairobi.

The authorities said he had appeared at the airport late and drunk and had threatened to shut down the facility.

In June, another university teacher, Aimable Karasira, who has criticised Kagame on YouTube, was charged with "revisionism" and is still in detention.

Karasira, who survived the 1994 genocide which left 800,000 people dead, claims Kagame's ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party killed his parents.

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