Praises have always been high for Rwanda’s incumbent President, Paul Kagame, both at home and abroad. When he, however, set in motion a referendum that gave him the constitutional backing to rule past his mandate, the story slowly started to change.
The voices speaking about a lack of political freedoms in Rwanda began to get louder. Questions surfaced as to whether the President actually had the goodwill of the people or whether they were just fearful of his strong-handed leadership.
It was not unexpected considering that most of the strongmen Presidents currently populating Africa’s leadership space started out being heroes of their people before the thirst for power rendered them practically unrecognizable.
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is a ready example. He came to light in the country’s 1970s guerrilla war where he made his name as a revolutionary hero fighting white minority rule for the freedom of his people. These days, however, the now nonagenarian leader is surrounded by many critics of his rule as Zimbabwe’s economy continues to go from bad to worse.
President Paul Kagame is also considered one of the heroes of Rwanda’s genocide although some accounts of what happened during the genocide paint him as a villain in the story. The President has also managed to lead Rwanda into some periods of economic gain and innovation but is that enough reason to allow him to continue?
Of course, it is still left to Rwandans to re-elect President Paul Kagame come August 4. President Kagame has won himself a new opponent in the August elections in the person of, Diane Rwigara.
Who is Diane Rwigara?
Diane Rwigara is the 35-year-old daughter of a tycoon who once bankrolled the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front. She announced her candidacy on Wednesday saying that she would run as an independent candidate and pledging to tackle poverty, injustice and security problems.
Her father, Assinapol Rwigara, had died in 2015 after which she had distanced herself from the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front. She claimed that his death was an assassination, but police reject her allegations and say the cause was a road accident.
According to Diane Rwigara;
“Everybody is scared to express themselves because they are too scared of the ruling party,”
“The only people who are given a voice are the people praising the regime,”
She cited reports from human rights organizations saying that “We all know here… people… disappeared or… killed,” Diane Rwigara is the fourth candidate to enter the race for Rwanda’s presidency, joining independent Philippe Mpayimana, Democratic Green party head Frank Habineza and the incumbent Kagame.