Kagame rival Rwigara still in race amid malicious photo leak

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Diane Shima Rwigara insists she will still stand against Kagame

Diane Shima Rwigara, the 35-year-old daughter of a tycoon who once bankrolled the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, says she will still challenge President Paul Kagame in the August general elections despite the nude photos scandal.

In May 2017, nude pictures believed to those of Rwigara, a daughter of businessman, Assinapol Rwigara, although she later came out to disown them, while speaking to the The East African on Wednesday, Rwigara.

The photographs were 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”.

On Thursday, Rwigara tweeted using her official Twitter handle saying “some of my personal accounts were disabled, compromised or removed without my knowledge” and had not been on social media ever since.

In a May 3, press conference, Rwigara said everyone in Rwanda was scared of expressing themselves because they are too scared of the ruling party.

“I will be tackling poverty, injustice and insecurity. I will not stop. I am going to continue with my preparations,” she told She told The East African this week.

“The incident made me stronger, more resilient and determined to continue with this cause,” she added.

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

Rwigara left the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front after her father’s death in 2015 in a road accident, which she claimed was an assassination.

An influential industrialist, her father made his fortune in real estate and played an important role financing the FPR in the 1990s.

“I am not here to talk about my father,” Rwigara is quoted by AFP speaking at press conference in Kigali, admitting however that his death was “one reason” that had prompted her to run.

“We all know here… people…  disappeared or… killed,” she said, citing reports from human rights organisations.

In 2014, Human Rights Watch said there was a wave of disappearances in Rwanda, in a report that was rejected by authorities.

Rwigara is the fourth candidate to enter the race, joining independent Philippe Mpayimana, Democratic Green party head Frank Habineza and the incumbent Kagame.

A constitutional amendment passed last year means Kagame is able to stand for another seven-year term.