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Rwanda’s Mushikiwabo elected to head top Francophone body

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, has been unanimously elected as the next Secretary General of the Organisation of the French speaking nations (OIF). The elections were held on Oct.12 in in Yerevan – the capital City of Armenia during the 17th OIF summit.

She is now the head of the 84-nation bloc and will serve four years renewable from the organisation headquarters in Paris – France.

Her election marks the success of an intense campaign that saw her traverse numerous capitals in the French speaking world. Mushikiwabo also had to battle a determined incumbent, Michaelle Jean, who aimed to renew her mandate but was handicapped when her native Quebec and Canada withdrew their support in favour of Mushikiwabo.

Mushikiwabo signaled she was on the highway to victory when she won early support from France and the French-speaking members of the African Union. Heading into the election she told the top French TV5Monde that she was very confident and wearing a smile on her face.

“An African secretary general would make a lot of sense, and a female African candidate would make even more sense,” French President Emmanuel Macron said of Mwishikiwabo on May 23, after a meeting with his Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

“Louise Mushikiwabo has all the skills for the job, and having an African candidate is good news – so I will back her,” he added.

Local media in Rwanda was awash with an outpouring of congratulatory messages soon after Mushikiwabo’s victory.

Her colleague, Rwanda’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, was quoted saying Mwishikiwabo won because of her dedication and track record of delivering on her tasks.

“I have worked with her for the last nine years; she is an intelligent, smart and experienced woman who associates well with people. I believe Mushikiwabo’s experience gained in her service to the development of Rwanda will be vital (in her bid) to lead OIF to greater heights,” he wrote in a tweet on Oct.12.

He said Mwishikiwabo is victory of a dynamic brilliant, experienced, ambitious and determined woman and a relevant Francophonie in the world’s politics and business.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that Mushikiwabo’s victory is a “great pride for Africa and for Rwanda.”

“I am delighted that the African candidate Mushikiwabo is elected by consensus and by acclamation. This demonstrates her qualities, experience, and leadership that are thus unanimously recognised by the Francophone fraternity. I congratulate her,” he said in tweet.

The French embassy in Rwanda also congratulated Minister Mushikiwabo, La Francophonie, as well as the entire campaign team.

Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, First Lady of Gabon, said she was pleased to see that Mushikiwabo seeks to stimulate a new narrative on a strong African and its determination to work for the employability of the youth at her heart.

German Ambassador to Rwanda, Dr Peter Woeste, said that Mushikiwabo’s victory is an expression of the amazing worldwide reputation of her personally and also a great recognition of the role Rwanda plays internationally.

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