Paul Kagame, why won't you let me run? - Heartbroken Rwigara cries out

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Paul Kagame, why won't you let me run? - Heartbroken Rwigara cries out
Ms Diane Shima Rwigara

KIGALI | It really hurts, says Diane Shima Rwigara after her hope of running in Rwanda's presidential election was dashed a second time on Thursday.

"Paul Kagame, why won't you let me run?" she posted on X, formerly Twitter, "This is the second time you cheat me out of my right to campaign."

Rwanda's National Electoral Commission (NEC) led by Oda Gasinzigwa named the same two also-rans who escorted incumbent Paul Kagame to the ballot in 2017.

Independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana, now employed by the government, and Frank Habineza of the Green Party, will hope to at least make 1 percent of the vote after the two shared just 1.3 percent in 2017.

Ms Rwigara and Fred Barafinda Sekikubo were left in the cold again, like it was in 2017.

They are joined in looking out to what is happening inside the presidential election booth by Jean Mbanda, a former lawmaker, Thomas Habimana, Innocent Hakizimana, and Herman Manirareba.

Days to the announcement of the provisional list of presidential candidates, Ms Rwigara said she was hopeful of making it this time round after submitting signatures of 930 voters - at least 300 more than the required 600.

But NEC chair Gasinzigwa said Rwigara, 42, had failed to fulfill certain requirements.

"After all the time, work and effort I put in, I am very disappointed to hear that I am not on the list of presidential candidates," Ms Rwigara said.

Among the reasons for locking Ms Rwigara from the July 14 presidential vote, the electoral commission said she had submitted a copy of court file instead of criminal record.

Ms Gasinzigwa also said the aspirant had submitted a birth certificate where she was required to submit proof of Rwandan citizenship.

In the televised announcement, Ms Gasinzigwa did not explain how a birth certificate does not constitute proof of citizenship.

Ms Rwigara was also sanctioned for failure to submit at least 12 signatures of her supporters from Kamonyi, Gatsibo, Gasabo, Musanze, Nyagatare, Burera, Nyabihu, and Kayonza districts.

In the 2017 electoral process, Ms Rwigara failed to make the list entirely after being accused of forging signatures of dead persons.

She was treated to the rudeness and crudeness of politics when her alleged nude photos were published on social media.

She insisted the images had been digitally manipulated to tarnish her reputation. But that was before the nomination window shut in her face.

The events following her rejection by NEC were brutal. She arrested along with her mother, Adeline, and sister Anne - who passed on last December - and charged with forgery and tax evasion, among others.

The daughter of former Rwanda Patriotic Front financier and President Kagame ally Assinapol Rwigara becomes the third opposition figure to be barred from next month's vote.

Victoire Ingabire and Bernard Ntaganda, who were both arrested in 2010 and jailed after sticking their necks out to challenge Kagame's stronghold on Rwanda, were earlier barred from the election by contested court decisions.

President Kagame has ruled Rwanda since 1994 after stopping the Genocide against the Tutsi - although for the first nine years he played in the shadows as a vice president and defence minister before taking the complete reins in 2003.

He has been widely credited with restoring stability in the country and raising it from the ashes of the ethnic killings to a model economy but he is also widely criticised for limited shrinking democratic space and human rights violations.

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