Rwanda’s Electoral Commission Bars Opposition Leader Diane Rwigara from Presidential Race

Diane Rwigara, a prominent opposition leader in Rwanda and head of the People’s Salvation Movement, has been barred from challenging President Paul Kagame in the upcoming election. Kagame has been Rwanda’s de facto ruler since the 1994 genocide and has served as president since 2000. Rwigara, who was also barred from running in 2017, submitted her candidacy last week but was not included in the provisional list of candidates announced by the electoral commission on Thursday.

The commission stated that Rwigara failed to provide a required criminal record statement and did not meet the threshold of 600 supporting signatures from citizens. Rwigara expressed her disappointment on X, questioning why Kagame would not allow her to run. In 2017, she was barred from the race over accusations of forging supporters’ signatures and was subsequently arrested and charged with forgery and inciting insurrection, spending more than a year in jail.

Only two other candidates, Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green party and independent Philippe Mpayimana, were cleared to run against Kagame. The final candidate list is expected on June 14, with the presidential and parliamentary votes scheduled for July 15.

Kagame has been praised for Rwanda’s economic transformation since the genocide but faces criticism over rights abuses and intolerance of the opposition. In the lead-up to this year’s vote, Rwandan courts had already rejected appeals from prominent opposition figures Bernard Ntaganda and Victoire Ingabire to remove previous convictions that effectively barred them from running.

About Geraldine Boechat 2735 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia