Rwanda should end political harassmentKigali, Ruanda (AFP) - Rwanda should end harassment of opposition supporters to allow greater political openness for the country to develop, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice said on an official visit Wednesday.
"Civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out," Rice said in a speech in the Rwandan capital.
"Some have been harassed. Some have been intimidated by late-night callers. Some have simply disappeared."
The political culture in Rwanda under President Paul Kagame's government "remains comparatively closed “Rice said, adding that” press restrictions persist."
Rwanda, a small central African country, was left devastated by 1994 genocide where some 800,000 people were massacred in a span of 100 days.
But Rice, in a speech titled, "building a new nation", also praised the "extraordinary progress" of the nation since then and stressed continued U.S. support.
"The deepening and broadening of democracy can be the next great achievement of this great country and its remarkable people," she said.
"In Rwanda, economic development and political openness should reinforce each other."
Rwanda has been accused of restricting opposition and press freedom in the past. Human rights group Amnesty International criticised Kigali in June of stifling dissent and jailing government critics, including journalists.
Earlier this year Western countries in the UN human rights council raised concerns about attacks and restrictions on freedom of speech.
Rice, who visited Kigali six months after the genocide, said she would visit a memorial to those killed on Thursday with her family to pay her respects