Diane Shima Rwigara, Rwanda’s first female independent presidential candidate, has managed to fulfill the required electoral provision in her bid to challenge incumbent President Paul Kagame in the nation’s forthcoming presidential elections slated for August 4th.
Businesswoman and presidential aspirant Rwigara formally submitted her nomination documents to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Tuesday, reports the Monitor.
The required documents included 600 signatures of at least 12 registered voters from each of the 30 districts of Rwanda, a birth certificate, proof of Rwandan citizenship, and a letter proving that she has relinquished her Belgian citizenship.
Rwigara formally announced her decision to contest for the Rwandan presidency on May 3rd; however, just a few days after her announcement, nude photos of the 35-year-old businesswoman surfaced on social media after they were leaked online.
Undeterred, her supporters say that whoever leaked the photos clearly meant to embarrass and undermine the young female politician.
The controversy surrounding the leaked photos notwithstanding, Rwigara still managed to fulfill all of the NEC requirements this week.
According to Rwigara, local leaders targeted her supporters with intimidation and threats while collecting signatures. Still, she believes that she is assured of victory if the polls are free, fair, and transparent.
Human Rights Abuses
Rwigara is the daughter of wealthy Rwandan businessman Assinapol Rwigara, a former ally of President Kagame before the pair fell out.
Assinapol died in controversial circumstances in 2015 in what official accounts insist was a car accident. His family, however, suspects he was the victim of a politically motivated murder.
Critics have repeatedly accused the Rwandan government of several rights abuses, including forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests of opponents, and murder.
They have also condemned what they describe as President Kagame’s increasing stranglehold on political power in the country.
Mr. Kagame has held office for more than two decades: he became Rwanda’s leader in 1994, after his rebel army successfully ended the genocide that targeted Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
Following a controversial referendum in 2015, new legislation was passed to ensure he continues in power for at least another decade.
As part of her political manifesto, Rwigara has vowed to work toward eradicating poverty and setting up an universal health insurance scheme.
The accountant-turned-politician has also promised to implement a slew of reforms, including opening up the political space, championing free speech, and revisiting the issue of term limits for elected office holders.