The US government has accused the Rwandan authorities of taking "worrying actions" to restrict freedom of expression ahead of the August 9 presidential poll, the State Department website said.
"The political environment ahead of the election has been riddled by a series of worrying actions taken by the Government of Rwanda, which appear to be attempts to restrict the freedom of expression," US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson was quoted as saying.
Carson made the remarks on Tuesday while addressing a house committee in Washington.
"In a period of months, the Government of Rwanda has suspended two newspapers, revoked the work permit and denied the visa of a Human Rights Watch researcher, and arrested (and subsequently released on bail) opposition leader Victoire Ingabire," Carson said.
He went on to say that despite several attempts, two political parties, the Green party and the FDU (Unified Democratic Forces, led by Victoire Ingabire) "have still not been able to register".
He also noted "dissensions" within the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), headed by President Paul Kagame.
"We have relayed our concerns about these developments to the Government of Rwanda, urging senior government leaders to respect freedoms of expression, press, association, and assembly," Carson went on.
"In particular, we have pressed leaders to allow all international and domestic non-governmental organizations and media to operate and report freely," he said.
Washington also asked Rwanda "to treat Victoire Ingabire in accordance with international law, ensure due process, and give her a speedy, fair, and transparent trial".
"We have urged the Government of Rwanda and all regional and international partners to work together to achieve free, fair, and peaceful elections that the people of Rwanda deserve," Carson went on.
"We appreciate, in the context of the most tragic event in recent history -the genocide - the need for security, stability, and reconciliation is critical. But long-term stability is best promoted by democratic governance and respect for human rights," Carson said.
So far two candidates from registered parties have been declared for the August election: the incumbent president and Jean Damascene Ntawukuriyayo of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), a grouping that has traditionally been allied to Kagame's RPF.
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch
Welcome to Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:http://www.rwandadocumentsproject.net/gsdl/cgi-bin/library