Meet Diane Shima Rwigara Rwanda’s First Female Independent Presidential Candidate

Diane Shima Rwigara on Wednesday declared her interest to run for the Rwandan presidency, becoming the first female independent candidate.

In her manifesto, the 35-year-old said she will work to eradicate poverty, champion free speech, and provide health insurance for all Rwandans.

The accountant and businesswoman also criticised the ruling RPF party saying it was behind the 2015 referendum that led to the suspension of term limits in Rwanda.

“When time comes for leaders to leave power, they get excuses to stay and then say that it is the people who are asking them to continue to lead. This is a bad habit across the continent,” she said.

“RPF has failed to tackle poverty or to provide security and justice. What RPF has failed to do in the last 23 years, they cannot do it in the coming years. As a president, I will ensure that I deliver on all these.”

Ms Rwigara is the daughter of deceased Kigali tycoon Assinapol Rwigara, who died in a road accident in February 2015. Accounts of his death became controversial after the family cited foul play and petitioned President Paul Kagame to call for investigations into the manner in which he died.

Ms Rwigara joins a growing list of independent candidates including former journalist Phillipe Mpayimana, and controversial Catholic priest Thomas Nahimana who have expressed interest to run against President Kagame in the August 4 polls.

However, in order to be allowed to contest by the National Electoral Commission, they face a daunting challenge of gathering at least 600 signatures from 30 districts — a minimum of 12 signatures and at least an address in each district.

At the same time, the electoral body has warned candidates vying for presidency against fundraising to raise campaign money.

The commission will receive nominations from candidates from June 12 to 23. A provisional list of qualified candidates will be announced on June 27.

The names of qualified candidates will be published on July 7, a week before campaigns kick off.

Others in the race for the presidency is Frank Habineza, the president of the Green Party as well as a candidate from the Social Democratic Party, who is yet to be named.

President Kagame is, however, largely expected to win a seven-year third term following the constitutional amendment that allowed him to seek re-election at the end of what would have been his second last term.

In 2003, Alvera Mukabaramba of the Party of Peace and Concord was the first Rwandan woman to run for the presidency but withdrew on the eve of the elections and joined forces with President Kagame who swept the polls. She tried again in 2010 but lost to President Kagame.

Source: The East African

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