Scandal-hit female challenger of Rwanda’s Kagame bounces back


Ismail Akwei

After the nude photo scandal that hit Rwanda’s first female presidential hopeful, 35-year-old Diane Shima Rwigara has bounced back saying nothing will stop her from challenging President Paul Kagame in the August general elections.

Social media was flooded early May with nude pictures believed to be of the women’s rights activist, two days after declaring her interest to contest in the elections.

“I will not stop. I am going to continue with my preparations. The incident made me stronger, more resilient and determined to continue with this cause,” she told regional newspaper The EastAfrican.

She picked up forms at the Electoral Commission office in the capital Kigali on May 10 to begin the election process as an independent candidate.

The paper reports that she “disowned” the photographs which were first circulated by an unknown sender via email with the title: “the shameless acts of Diane Shima Rwigara who wants to contest for presidency”; and message: “look at our presidential candidate”.






Diane Shima Rwigara had not reacted to the incident for over a week until Wednesday when she spoke to The EastAfrican.

The pictures which she says were “manipulated” have been shared widely by blogs and websites in Kenya and Nigeria.

She gained a lot of support on social media after the scandal including condemnation of the act of online shaming.

No legal action has been taken and no statement has been released by the Rwandan security authorities in that regard.

Diane Shima Rwigara who is championing freedom of expression had not updated her active Twitter page since April 28 and her Facebook page since May 2.

“Everybody is scared to express themselves because they are too scared of the ruling party. I will be tackling poverty, injustice and insecurity,” she said during a press conference on May 3 to declare her presidential bid.

Diane Shima Rwigara is the daughter of businessman Assinapol Rwigara, who was pivotal in the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front.

She distanced herself from the party after her father’s death in 2015 in a road accident which she claimed was an assassination.


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