12 days after Rwandans reelected President Paul Kagame to serve a third seven-year term on August 4, but some women still not happy. Diane Shima Rwigara, 35, was the first Rwandan woman to run for president as an independent, whose nudes leaked believes the president’s increasingly authoritarian stance could further oppress women, rather than empower them.

Diane Shima Rwigara, who was running as the country’s first independent female presidential candidate, says the government has been harassing her and her family ever since she was unfairly disqualified

Rwigara, only woman in the August race – before being was disqualified, said;  “the fact that Rwanda has the world’s highest proportion of women in Parliament does not mean the country is comfortable with women in power,” she says.

Kagame may be credited with ending a horrific genocide and improving the country’s economic growth and maternal mortality rates, but Rwigara warns that the president’s increasingly authoritarian stance could further oppress women, rather than empower them.

“I don’t believe in the lie being sold to the world that Rwandan women have a voice – we don’t,” she says. “We’re only allowed to do or say certain things as dictated by the ruling party. If you don’t, you pay a high price.”

For Rwigara, that price was her bid for the presidency. Her nomination was excluded when the electoral commission said she didn’t have enough names to endorse her candidacy, a charge she rejects. “When I finally submitted my papers, the number of signatures were almost double the required number of 650 – I had over 1,100 signatures,” she says. “If Rwanda was a place fair to women I would not have been treated the way I was while trying to run.”

The harassment didn’t end there. Rwigara says the ruling party tried to discredit her by releasing fake nude pictures online, but Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) denied any involvement. Some of her family’s businesses have been shut down and bank accounts frozen without justification, she says, while members of her movement have been temporarily jailed and threatened by the police.

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