EDITORIAL: Enfin, you can now return your sword in the scabbard

Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo addressing the media in Yerevan, Armenia after she was unanimously elected as Secretary General of La Francophonie by a Heads of State Summit and Government on Friday. Urugwiro Village.

The dust has finally settled in the quest to choose the next Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). Rwanda’s own, Louise Mushikiwabo, was unanimously endorsed, ousting the incumbent, Michaëlle Jean of Canada.

The run-up to the election was full of intrigue, mudslinging and generally poisoning the air around anything Rwanda, but it was a loss of time as the country calmly rode out the storm.

One thing for sure, it was a diplomatic coup of major proportions; Rwanda managed to rally the whole of the African continent behind Mushikiwabo.

The respect President Kagame commands as the current head of the African Union, to the extent of even being given the added responsibilities of spearheading the Union reforms, played a decisive part. But the fact that Mushikiwabo had been a member of President Kagame’s demanding cabinet – spending nine years as head of diplomacy – did not escape the attention of the African Heads of State.

There is an unwritten understanding that the post is occupied by an African national. First it was occupied by former UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, followed by former Senegalese President Abdou Diouf.

In 2014, African countries failed to find a compromise candidate for the prestigious post. That is how Ms. Jean – former Governor-General of Canada - came in. Rallying the whole OIF membership – including Jean’s own Quebec and Canada – was a stroke of brilliance.

It announced Rwanda’s growing relevance on the table of nations, bringing on board cool-headedness, determination and not baulking under pressure, however hostile. So the best the detractors out there could do is to eat humble pie.

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