Rwandan legislators have called for a conditional travel ban on European Union MPs following a recent damning report that cites lack of “political space” in Rwanda.
In a Parliament session on Monday afternoon, furious Rwandan MPs bashed the EU for undermining the sovereignty of Rwanda and asked the government to consider restricting travel for eight EU legislators unless they apologise.
The EU politicians were accused of hiding under the veil of “gender empowerment” during a recent visit to Rwanda while they “harboured a hidden agenda” against the country.
In September, a delegation of eight members of the EU Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality visited Rwanda but were denied access to jailed opposition leader Victoire Ingabire for absence of a formal request.
“They said they had come to check on the progress of women, but the first thing they did was to visit a criminal in jail. This criminal gets three meals a day unlike some people. We are tired of these unreliable visitors and they should not be allowed in our country unless they apologise,” MP Edouard Bamporiki said.
Ms Ingabire is currently serving 15 years in jail after the Supreme Court in 2013 found her guilty of inciting revolt, forming armed groups to destabilise the country and denying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
She is the focus of a new report from the EU Parliament, which criticised Rwandan courts for failing to recognise her “presumed innocence” and for trying her on “vague laws”.
Rwanda’s MPs expressed disappointment at what they said was “recycling of allegations” even after satisfactory answers had been provided in the past.
“There is a clear hidden agenda; but only they know what it is,” Ms Christine Muhongaire said.
“They need to be reminded that relations between countries are based on respect. We are no longer a punching bag of those with colonial minds. We are ready to deal with them legally or politically,” the MP added.
They also raised concerns that the EU had ignored facts that evidence had been provided by Dutch officials showing that Ms Ingabire - during her stay in Netherlands - was collaborating with the Hutu rebels operating in eastern DR Congo.
Parliament unanimously rejected the EU report and said they will send the list of resolutions to their European counterparts.