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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Opposition accepts Kagame
Rwandan opposition leader Faustin Twagiramungu
Mr Twagiramungu called for freedom of speech in Rwanda
More than two weeks after Rwanda's presidential election, opposition leader Faustin Twagiramungu has recognised Paul Kagame as president.

He told the BBC's Network Africa programme that despite his reluctance to accept Mr Kagame's landslide victory, he was respecting the choice of the people of Rwanda.

During the election campaign, Mr Twagiramungu, from the majority Hutu ethnic group, was accused of divisionism by supporters of Paul Kagame, an ethnic Tutsi. He then alleged that the August election had been rigged.

Mr Twagiramungu said he had sent a telegram to Mr Kagame on Thursday, calling on him to "accept what he has promised, to give peace to Rwanda, to accept freedom of speech and association and also to accept democracy".

'People's choice'

"I do not think it is wise perhaps to fight against the views of the international community and certainly the views of Rwandans who have made their own choice," he said.

European Union observers said that Rwanda's presidential election was "not entirely" free and fair, but the South African observer mission said the election had been free and fair.

Mr Tagiramungu - the main opposition challenger in presidential race - was not invited to Friday's swearing-in ceremony, which he said he wanted to attend.

He was not being seen as the holder of a political position, but "as an enemy of the regime, which is incredible," he said.

Mr Twagiramungu's party the MDR was banned, a few months before the elections and he was forced to contest as an independent candidate.

Raid

Mr Twagiramungu said police in Rwanda had raided his home on Tuesday and left with 20 of his documents after questioning him.

The search warrant was signed by the Attorney General, accusing him, according to Mr Twagiramungu, of "undermining state security and associating with criminals,"

"This is a very grave accusation, as far as I am concerned," he said.

The attorney general, Gerard Gahima confirmed that the police were looking for evidence in connection with an investigation into a group of around 10 people, including Mr Twagiramungu.

Correspondents say that the police action could have been prompted by his reluctance to accept Mr Kagame's victory.

The vote was Rwanda's first democratic elections since the 1994 genocide in which up to one million people were killed.


SEE ALSO:
Rwanda poll challenge rejected
02 Sep 03  |  Africa


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