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John Williams Ntwali, rare Rwandan journalist critical of govt, dies

John Williams Ntwali - who was the editor of The Chronicles news site - died on Tuesday night when a motorbike taxi he had boarded was hit by a car in Kimihurura area, his brother Emmanuel Masabo was told by the police. [Facebook: John Williams Ntwali]

A widely known journalist and government critic, John Williams Ntwali, died in a road accident in the capital, Kigali, according to the police.

According to the BBC, the editor of The Chronicles new site died on Tuesday night when a motorbike taxi he had boarded was hit by a car in Kimihurura area, his brother Emmanuel Masabo was told by the police.

Mr Masabo said he was called by police on Thursday afternoon to confirm the identity of the body in a mortuary.

“When I arrived, they took me to the mortuary. I saw that it was him and I confirmed to them,” Mr Masabo told the BBC.

He added: "They did not provide with me more details… maybe they will later. I also had no energy to ask for more [at that moment]."

The Chronicles news site has also confirmed the death of the 43-year old journalist in a tweet. He had been the publication's editor since 2021.

Mr Ntwali was critical of the government and the ruling party in his reports that focused on injustice and social issues facing Rwandans through his YouTube channel, Pax TV-Ireme news.

Government sympathisers criticised him of being “an extremist” and repeatedly attacked him on social media.

Journalists and friends have expressed shock over his death.

He is survived by a wife and a daughter.

Mr Ntwali was critical of the government and the ruling party in his reports that focused on injustice and social issues facing Rwandans through his YouTube channel, Pax TV-Ireme news. According to media, he openly questioned state policies like taxes on land, arrests of opposition politicians and YouTubers, and questioned the death of singer Kizito Mihigo - a government critic.

Government sympathisers criticised him of being “an extremist” and repeatedly attacked him on social media. On January 7, Ntwali reported on his YouTube channel that two teachers had gone missing for over a year after they were taken for questioning by intelligence officers. Human Rights Watch called on Friday for a "prompt, effective investigation" into the death, saying that Ntwali "joins a long list of people who have challenged the government and died in suspicious circumstances"

The BBC reports that friends and relatives of John Williams Ntwali have called for an independent international investigation into his death in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

Police say Mr Ntwali - one of the last independent journalists in the central African nation - had died in a road accident.

But he hadn't been seen since reporting to a police station on Tuesday.

His family were only notified of the death on Thursday.

The network further reports that several critics of President Paul Kagame have died in suspicious circumstances both inside and outside of Rwanda.

The country's human rights record has been repeatedly questioned and Kigali has also been accused of launching a proxy war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda has dismissed all these allegations.