Rwanda opposition leader says she was barred from traveling

A prominent Rwandan opposition leader says authorities barred her from leaving the East African nation this week to receive a human rights award in Spain

KIGALI, Rwanda -- A prominent Rwandan opposition leader said Friday that authorities barred her from leaving the East African nation this week to receive a human rights award in Spain.

“I wrote a letter to the minister of justice requesting permission to travel but the minister didn’t reply as usual. It’s unfortunate,” Victoire Ingabire told The Associated Press.

Ingabire’s children accepted the award on her behalf Thursday from the Human Rights Association of Spain.

There was no immediate comment from Rwanda's government.

She said Rwanda's government also turned down a request in May when she wanted to travel to Germany for a conference.

Ingabire spent 16 years in exile in the Netherlands and returned to Rwanda to launch an opposition political movement in 2010 but was imprisoned before she could contest the presidential election.

President Paul Kagame last year pardoned her after she served eight years of a 15-year sentence on terrorism charges, which she had called fabricated and politically motivated.

Ingabire recently quit as chief of the political party she founded and launched a new one after police interrogated her over a possible connection to an attack in a popular tourist area near Congo that killed at least 14 people.

Ingabire has insisted she doesn’t believe in armed struggle.