Diane Rwigara

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Diane Rwigara was born in Kigali in 1981, and she is known to be a fierce critic of Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, and his government. Rwigara, who is Tutsi, was born into a family of three. She came into the limelight after Assinapol Rwigara, her father and Kigali business tycoon, died mysteriously in a car accident in Kigali. Her dad was a key financier of the ruling party, Rwandan Patriotic Front. She and her family believe their father’s death was politically motivated.

The US-educated politician openly accused the government of masterminding her father’s death. She sought help from both international human rights organizations and foreign diplomatic missions in Kigali to help her get justice. Rwigara is an accountant by profession;however, she is also a vocal women’s rights crusader who has openly criticized the government for bad governance, oppression, and various forms of injustice.

In May 2017, Diane announced she was going to be a presidential candidate for the August 2017 elections. She intended to run on an Independent ticket, but things took a turn for the worse: nude photos of her were leaked online only 72 hours after her announcement. However, Rwigara was not deterred, and she accused the government of leaking the photos in order to humiliate and intimidate her. She insisted she would still go for the top seat and focus her energy on eradicating poverty, advocating for free speech, and championing human rights.

Unfortunately, her dream to run for presidency was thwarted when the National Electoral Commission refused to clear her, claiming she didn’t fulfill all the requirements. Rwigara found this move malicious and accused the government of frustrating efforts by critics to vie in elections. “The RPF are scared,” Rwigara said, “If they are loved by the people, as they claim, why is that when someone like me announces an intention to run, they resort to all these dirty tricks to try to discourage me and silence me? If they were really popular, then they would have let me compete”.

Diane has landed in trouble with authorities on several occasions. Immediately after the August elections, she was arrested and charged with numerous offences- fraud and treason included. Even though she has faced so many challenges, Rwigara believes she is the voice for the voiceless, and her courageous and stubborn personality keeps her going.

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