Diane Rwigara

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Diane Shima Rwigara is a Rwandan businesswoman and women's rights activist who stood as an independent candidate in the Rwandan presidential election, 2017.

Early life[edit]

Rwigara is a Tutsi who was born in Kigali in 1981 and has three siblings.[1] Her father, Assinapol Rwigara, an industrialist who was a key financial backer of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, was killed in a car accident on the evening of 4 February 2015 in Gacuriro, Kigali, which her family believes was a politically motivated murder.[1][2] Police said he was instantly killed when the Mercedez-Benz car he was driving was in a head-on collision with a heavy truck.[3][4]


Rwigara is a trained accountant.[2] She is a women's rights activist who has repeatedly spoken out against the country's bad governance under President Paul Kagame[5][6] and about injustice and oppression.[7]

On 3 May 2017, Rwigara announced her intention to run in the presidential election. 72 hours later, nude photos of her were leaked in an apparent attempt to humiliate and intimidate her.[5][8] She reiterated her intention to run, with campaign vows to work towards eradicating poverty, establishing universal health insurance and championing free speech.[2]

On July 7, 2017, the National Electoral Commission disqualified Rwigara from the election on technical grounds,[9] alleging she had used forged signatures in her presidential bid[10] and had submitted only 572 valid signatures rather than the required 600. Rwigara said she submitted 958 signatures, with an additional 120 after some were disqualified.[11] Two other candidates were also disqualified, prompting Amnesty International to say that the election would be held in a "climate of fear and repression."[12] The decision was also criticised by the US State Department and the European Union.[13][14] Kagame won the August 4 election with 98% of the vote.[10] Rwigara launched an activist group called the People Salvation Movement to challenge the regime on its human rights record, saying that the country's parliament is little more than a rubber-stamp.[9][15][16]

On August 30, 2017, Rwigara's home was raided, with police saying she was being investigated for forgery and tax evasion.[10] Rwigara's family reported her missing, saying that unknown armed men in civilian clothes had held her at gunpoint while the house was searched, but police denied that she had been arrested.[14][17] As of September 1, 2017, numerous news outlets reported that Rwigara still could not be reached and that her family continued to claim she is missing.[18][19][20]


  1. ^ a b Lepapa, Naipanoi (14 May 2017). "Who is Diane Rwigara, Rwanda's First Female Independent Presidential Candidate". The African Exponent. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Babatunde, Mark (5 May 2017). "35-Year-Old Businesswoman Diane Rwigara To Challenge Kagame in Rwandan Presidential Elections". Face 2 Face Africa. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  3. ^ "Family of deceased tycoon Assinapol Rwigara petitions President Kagame". The East African. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "The curious case of the death of Mr Assinapol Rwigara". The Rwandan. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Okey-Nwosu, Muna (9 May 2017). "Rwandese Presidential Candidate Diane Shima Rwigara isn't Backing Out Despite Leaked Nude Photos". Bella Naija. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  6. ^ Runsewe, Oreoluwa (9 May 2017). "Young, Single And Independent: The Obstacles Facing Rwanda's Potential First Female President". Ventures Africa. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  7. ^ Finn, Brandon (27 April 2017). "Op-Ed: Activism and Rwanda's Development Model – Diane Rwigara takes a stand". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  8. ^ Babtunde, Mark (10 May 2017). "Nude Photos of Rwandan Presidential Candidate Surface Online". Face 2 Face Africa. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  9. ^ a b Gardner, Tom (4 August 2017). "'Rwanda is like a pretty girl with a lot of makeup, but the inside is dark and dirty'". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c Ssuuna, Ignatius (30 August 2017). "Former Rwandan Presidential Candidate Accused of Forgery". Bloomberg Politics. Associated Press. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  11. ^ "Rwanda disqualifies only female presidential candidate". Reuters. 8 July 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  12. ^ "Three Rwandan Presidential Candidates Disqualified Amid Criticism". VOA News. Associated Press. 7 July 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  13. ^ "Police Investigating Critic Of Rwandan President For Forgery". PM News Nigeria. 30 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  14. ^ a b "Critic of Rwandan President Investigated for Forgery". The New York Times. Reuters. 30 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  15. ^ Busari, Stephani; idowu, Torea (5 August 2017). "Fake nude photos were used to 'silence me', disqualified Rwandan candidate says". CNN. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  16. ^ Akwei, ismail (15 July 2017). "Disqualified Rwandan presidential aspirant forms anti-Kagame movement". Africa News. 
  17. ^ "Africa Live: Donkey delicacy triggers 'price hike', Rwanda opposition figure home raided - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  18. ^ Ssuuna, Ignatius (1 September 2017). "Former presidential hopeful in Rwanda said to be in custody". ABC News. Retrieved 1 September 2017. 
  19. ^ Mugisha, Ivan R. (31 August 2017). "Rwanda: Where is Diane Rwigara and Her Family?". The East African (Nairobi). Retrieved 1 September 2017. 
  20. ^ Alfa Shaban, Abdur Rahman (30 August 2017). "Rwanda police must produce 'missing' female critic of Kagame". Africanews. Retrieved 1 September 2017.