No sooner had Victoire Ingabire been commuted by President Kagame last week, than she hit airwaves thumbing her chest with demands and denying she had been released solely under the President’s mercy.
She went on to deny the crimes of which she was serving a sentence for.
She told the BBC Kinyarwanda service that she was innocent in the first place.
Critics of Kagame’s administration claimed he had commuted her because of “pressure.”
Kagame commented about it earlier on Wednesday at the parliamentary building while presiding over the swearing in ceremony of new MPs.
He said Rwanda did not pardon convicts, including ‘political stars’ because it was bending to anyone’s pressure.
Kagame said the decision was based on Rwandans’ choices.
The freed thousands of convicts, including Ingabire, were given clemency due to the nation’s interests, he said, for the country to rehabilitate its people so that they can contribute to its development.
He said: “If we did not give clemency, how many people would still be in prison?”
“We would still have 100 of thousands in jail. But to build our country, we made the decision to rehabilitate our citizens and enable them to contribute to our country.”
Kagame seems to have been seriously offended by this whole scenario.
“In Rwanda, it is not pressure we respond to, it is our own thoughts. Where this country comes from , we have learned that we must refuse to be a submissive people,” he said.
The President explained that, “In Rwanda, things will change based on what we choose, not what we are told by others to choose” adding that “Rwanda and Africa have been subjected to too much. We are no longer a people to be pushed around into submission.”
“We want cooperation. We want to work in harmony with others. We want thoughts and ideas that bring us forward. And we will not be afraid to tell you that we have no room for those that take us backwards,’’ he stressed.
Going back to jail
Kagame said, referring to Ingabire, that going around claiming she had been released because of pressure, she should know that she can easily “find [herself] back in jail.”
“You will hear people saying ‘I didn’t apologize to be freed, I can’t apologize. They freed me because of the pressure’, pressure here? If you keep acting like that, you may find yourself there [in prison].”
Taarifa has seen copies of her letters to the President asking for clemency. Written in Kinyarwanda, she categorically stated that she was asking him to pardon her.
Speaking otherwise has irked the President and the general public has strongly condemned her behaviour, some of them insisting that she shouldn’t have been released.
“If you want to know that pressure does not work here, but what rather works is the right thinking, you could find yourself back there or you find yourself back outside wandering because you are nothing else there,” Kagame warned.
Meanwhile, President Paul Kagame appealed to the new sworn in MPs to work together and collaborate towards transforming the country.
Kagame said that this inauguration is not just about a ceremony. It is about starting a new mandate and committing to working hard.
“Rwandans have put their trust in you to serve them and work towards transforming this country into what Rwandans want and deserve.” He said.
The head of state reminded the MPs not to forget the population who gave them votes and asked them to fulfill promises they made to them while campaigning.
“You interacted with citizens when you were asking for their votes. Now that you have been elected, remain close to citizens, serve them and deliver on the promises you made,” he reminded the parliamentarians.
On corruption Kagame warned,” If you can only account for 25% of the resources you are responsible for, we will ask you about the other 75%. And we will find where you have hidden them and hold you accountable.”