Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister, Louise Mushikiwabo has been confirmed as the head of the world community of French-speaking countries.
The appointment sealed on the second day of the summit of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) in Armenia, will be regarded as a win for Rwanda, France and the African continent.
Canada’s Michaelle Jean lost her bid for a second term as secretary general of la Francophonie.
The appointment was confirmed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, which said there was “consensus” for the Rwandan lawmaker.
Mushikiwabo had the support of France and several African Union countries going into the summit and both Canada and Quebec said they would back the “consensus candidate,” pulling their support for Jean earlier this week.
Jean, appointed to the post in 2014, was the only secretary general to not hail from Africa since the post was created in 1997.
After a four-year term marked by controversy, the former governor general was considered a long shot for a second stint but Jean refused to withdraw her candidacy as support dwindled.
Louise Mushikiwabo, a reliable diplomat
Louise Mushikiwabo, a multilingual speaker of French, English and Kinyarwanda, became Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in December 2009, just days after the resumption of diplomatic relations with France.
The 57-year old is widely perceived to be a competent diplomat, who has worked tirelessly with president Paul Kagame to make Rwanda a major player on the global stage.
Rwanda’s relations with France
Rwanda and France who had fallen out over the latter’s role in the 1994 genocide in the East African nation, have pledged to resolve the differences and hostilities through bilateral meetings.
“Louise Mushikiwabo’s candidacy highlights development of the French-speaking community, and regarding differences with France, especially their role in the genocide against the Tutsi, we will discuss it during the bilateral relations,’‘ Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s secretary of state, said in June as the country its leadership bid for La Francophonie.
Rwanda’s human rights record and a decision to replace French with English as the official language in 2008, were pointed out as issues that dent its leadership credentials.
In July, African francophone countries officially rallied behind Mushikiwabo, a position consistent with their policy of backing an African candidate sensitive to the needs of states that comprise more than half of the OIF membership.
Created in 1970 along lines blazed by the Commonwealth, the OIF brings together 58 countries and regional governments, representing 274 million speakers of French around the world.
Mushikiwabo becomes the third African to take on the leadership of the Francophonie, following in the footsteps of Senegalese Abdou Diouf and the Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
-Africa News.com; The Canadian Press