KAMPALA. Presidential candidate Diane Shima Rwigara, 35, yesterday formally submitted her nomination documents to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to challenge incumbent president Paul Kagame in Rwanda’s forthcoming presidential elections slated for August 4.
Ms Rwigara was accompanied by a small group of people among them her mother Adeline Mukangemanyi, who held a Bible.
She was received by the NEC chairman, Prof Kalisa Mbanda, and other three commissioners.
As required for independent presidential aspirants, Ms Rwigara presented documents that included 600 signatures of at least 12 registered voters from each of the 30 districts of Rwanda, proof of Rwandan citizenship and a birth certificate among others.
Prof Mbanda said the commission also received a letter proving that Ms Rwigara surrendered her Belgian citizenship, and this was confirmed by the country’s consulate in Rwanda.
In recent interview with the Sunday Monitor, Ms Rwigara who is running as an independent candidate said she is assured of victory if the polls are free, fair and transparent.
“My chances are very high in free and democratic elections. I expect victory if the elections are fair and transparent,” Ms Rwigara said.
However, after submitting her documents, Ms Rwigara alleged that local leaders targeted her supporters with intimidation and threats while collecting signatures.
Earlier Mr Frank Habineza, the chairman and flag bearer of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, also submitted his bid followed by Gilbert Mwenedata, an independent candidate.
All aspirants, including president Kagame, who was selected as flag bearer of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front at the weekend, have until June 23 to submit bids while the provisional list of candidates is expected on June 27.
Campaigns are expected to start on July 7 and elections on August 3 for Rwandans in the diaspora followed by the general August 4. However, Ms Rwigara will have to be approved by the NEC to contest for presidency.
Ms Rwigara said she is seeking and hoping for a better Rwanda; A Rwanda where people don’t have to be harassed and penalised for their views and opinions.
Her manifesto is hinged on putting in place a non-discriminative political environment that is inclusive for all Rwandans, eliminating economic inequality among Rwandans, and ensuring basic rights like; a right to a home and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare and food.
The firstborn of six, Ms Rwigara is an accountant by training. She came in the limelight in May when she announced her intentions to challenge President Kagame in the coming elections. Ms Rwigara has fond memories of her father, Assinapol Rwigara, who died on February 4, 2015. He was a prominent businessman who owned a number of companies and buildings in Rwanda.