Disappointed Rwandan female presidential aspirant, 35-year-old Diane Shima Rwigara has redirected her focus to rights activism with the creation of the People Salvation Movement.
The movement, launched on Friday, was purposely formed to “call out the divisive politics of RPF [President Kagame’s party] and help to sensitize Rwandans about their rights, regardless of what party they belong to,” she explained.
Rwigara and two other independent candidates were disqualified by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) last week for failing to raise the required number of signatures to contest the elections.
The NEC accused her of conspiring with one of their officials in “forging the signatures of 26 voters”.
I should be out there campaigning today as a presidential candidate, but the electoral commission chose to disqualify me simply because they are not as independent as they say.
“Some of the signatures belong to deceased people; she also used documents belonging to the political party PS Imberakuri while gathering signatures, which puts her integrity in disrepute,” NEC Chairman, Kalisa Mbanda said.
She denied the claims, calling them lies.
“I should be out there campaigning today as a presidential candidate, but the electoral commission chose to disqualify me simply because they are not as independent as they say,”she said during the launch of her new movement in the capital Kigali.
She has earlier complained of sabotage by the NEC and threats against her supporters to dissuade them from signing her petition to contest. She was required to submit at least 12 signatures from each of the 30 districts in Rwanda.
Rwandan election campaigns kicked off on Friday with the three presidential candidates rallying in different parts of the country.
Incumbent President Paul Kagame addressed hundreds of Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) supporters in the Southern Province where he extended a hand to his contenders to join the ruling party.
The other two contenders – the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda’s Frank Habineza and independent presidential candidate Philippe Mpayimana – held low-key rallies in the Southwestern and Eastern regions respectively.
Elections will be held on August 3 in the diaspora and August 4 in Rwanda.
Photo Credit: TheEastAfrican/ IVAN R. MUGISHA