Diane Rwigara’s Return to Politics: An Interview with BBC

On May 20, 2024, Diane Shima Rwigara gave an interview to BBC, marking her return to the political scene in Rwanda. Rwigara, a prominent figure who faced challenges in her previous presidential candidacy in 2017, expressed confidence in her new bid for the presidency.

In 2017, Rwigara’s presidential candidacy was rejected due to not meeting the requirements set by the electoral commission. Despite this, she is now optimistic that her candidacy will be accepted this time. Candidates for the presidential and parliamentary elections in Rwanda are currently submitting their documents to the electoral commission, with elections scheduled for mid-July.

Alongside President Paul Kagame, other notable candidates include Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Diane Rwigara, and several independent candidates. If accepted, Diane Rwigara could be one of the few, if not the only, female candidates running against the incumbent government.

When asked why she decided to run again, Rwigara stated: “I still have the desire, even though 2017 didn’t go as I hoped, I felt compelled to try again. I’ve always loved politics, and it’s a great opportunity to pursue something you are passionate about, despite the many challenges.”

Rwigara emphasized her primary focus: “The first priority is improving the living conditions of the citizens. I believe that addressing issues such as access to food, housing, and education is crucial. If people are given the rights and opportunities to work and improve their lives, these problems can be solved. This year, my focus is on the economy—how can we ensure that the country’s wealth benefits everyone, not just a few.”

Rwigara acknowledged the positive economic indicators but highlighted disparities: “While our country has tall buildings and cleanliness, many people still live in poverty and cannot achieve their desires due to insufficient opportunities. Before discussing anything else, people’s basic needs must be met. We talk about politics, but you cannot engage in these discussions on an empty stomach. That’s why my main focus is improving the people’s living standards.”

Despite her absence from the political scene for a while, Rwigara believes that explaining her platform clearly will resonate with people: “Being out of politics for a while doesn’t mean I was inactive. Sometimes it’s good to be quiet and observe. Even as we ask others to change, we must also be willing to change ourselves. If the time is right for people to understand a concept, they will.”

Before her involvement in politics, Rwigara worked in accounting and finance. She mentioned: “Although I haven’t been active in accounting and finance recently, I’ve been involved in personal development and following the country’s developments.”

Rwigara addressed the connection between her political involvement and her father’s death: “My father, Assinapol Rwigara, a well-known businessman in Rwanda, died in a road accident in Kigali in 2015. The government said it was an accident, but our family believes it was intentional. I have loved politics for a long time, and my father’s death, while painful, was not the sole reason for my political involvement. It opened my eyes and gave me the strength to pursue my long-held ambitions.”

When asked about the potential rejection of her candidacy, Rwigara remained hopeful: “Last time, I was confident my candidacy would be accepted because I had made significant efforts to meet the requirements. Whether anything has changed, we will see. The political authorities know if there will be changes. While I have confidence, I also acknowledge that they might not accept my candidacy like before. However, I am hopeful this time.”

Diane Rwigara’s return to the political arena brings renewed focus on key issues affecting Rwanda, particularly in improving the living standards and economic inclusivity for all Rwandans. Her determination and optimism signal a continued commitment to her vision for the country.