The United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, on Wednesday officially appointed Rwanda’s outgoing Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza, as his Special Representative to the Central African Republic (CAR).
An official statement issued on Wednesday evening confirmed that Rugwabiza be the head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), replacing Senegalese Mankeur Ndiaye.
“United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Valentine Rugwabiza of Rwanda as his new Special Representative for the Central African Republic and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA),”
“Ms. Rugwabiza succeeds Mankeur Ndiaye of Senegal, who has led the Mission since 2019. The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Ndiaye’s service to the people of the Central African Republic during a turbulent and critical period in its history. His leadership was instrumental in MINUSCA’s comprehensive support to the general elections held in 2020-2021,”
“Ms. Rugwabiza has worked for more than thirty years on Africa development and security issues in both the public and corporate sectors as a Cabinet Member, a senior diplomat of Rwanda accredited to several countries and organizations and a senior leader in national, regional and multilateral entities,” the statement adds.
On February 23, Amb. Rugwabiza met Guterres to bid him farewell as she prepared to head to Bangui to begin her new role.
“I bid farewell to UN Secretary General as I end my tour of duty as Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the UN. I appreciated the excellent cooperation between Rwanda and the UN & expressed Rwanda’s continued support to UN Peacekeeping, Peacebuilding and Development pillars.” she tweeted.
Tough job awaits
Amb. Rugwabiza is inheriting from her predecessor a tough job as the central African nation continues to face serious challenges of insecurity. While noting progress in terms of regaining control of territory previously occupied by armed groups, Ndiaye, in his final briefing to the Council, denounced violations of human rights and international humanitarian law which continue to be committed by all parties in the CAR conflict.
These include the excessive use of force targeting certain communities, gender-based sexual violence and the recruitment, abuse, and use of children by armed groups.
Against that backdrop, the outgoing MINUSCA chief urged Central African authorities to conduct the necessary investigations, prosecute the perpetrators and bring justice to the victims.
Ndiaye however went on to outline positive steps towards restoring peace and stability, following the adoption of CAR’s Joint Road Map for Peace on 16 October, including a visit to Bangui on 14 January by representatives of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
He called on the Government to demonstrate more commitment to stay the course, including through the adoption of follow-up mechanisms and a clear timeline.
Amb. Rugwabiza’s task will include continuing to support the process of loosening the political deadlock and restore a climate of trust, which has resulted in the return of the democratic opposition to the Committee organizing national dialogues and ensuring that citizens are protected.
Amb. Rugwabiza has been serving as the Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations and non-resident Ambassador of Rwanda to Colombia and Jamaica. In New York, she was replaced by Amb. Claver Gatete, the former Minister of Infrastructure.
From 2014 to 2016, she was the Minister of East African Community Affairs and a Member of the East African Legislative Assembly. From 2013 to 2014, she served as Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board and Member of Cabinet.
From 2005 to 2013, Rugwabiza was the Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva. Prior to that, she served as the Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations Office in Geneva and United Nations specialized agencies, as well as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Rwanda to Switzerland, from 2002 to 2005. She speaks English, French, Swahili and Kinyarwanda.