23 November 2012

Rwanda's UN Envoy Appointed Minister

President Paul Kagame yesterday appointed Rwanda's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana, as State Minister in Charge of Cooperation.

The portfolio has not been in existence.

Ambassador Gasana will however remain the country's envoy to the UN, Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi said in a statement last evening.

Gasana, one of the country's longest serving diplomats, becomes the first Rwandan envoy to the UN to serve as cabinet minister at the same time.

Asked about this unprecedented appointment, Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Gasana's promotion gives him the powers to represent the country at the United Nations in matters that require ministerial presence.

"For purposes of the United Nations Security Council and Rwanda's Non-Permanent seat over the next two years, it makes it easy to have a Permanent Representative with Cabinet rank, so that for matters that require ministerial presence, the Permanent Representative has the right rank credentials," she told The New Times.

Mushikiwabo added, "It is also a fact that Ambassador Gasana, who has been in diplomatic service for 18 years now, has performed very well in his duties, so it's also a well deserved promotion. We congratulate him."

On January 1, Rwanda will begin its two-year term on the United Nations Security Council, a seat it won on October 18, replacing South Africa.

The country last occupied a similar position in 1993-94 during which period it experienced the Genocide against the Tutsi which claimed more than a million people.

Gasana has risen through the ranks in diplomatic circles having served as Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy Rwanda in Bonn, Germany (1994 to 1995), and later (1996 and 1997) in the same position in Bern, Switzerland.

He was later appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Federal Republic of Germany, with concurrent accreditation to Austria, Bulgaria, Russian Federation, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania.

Gasana also served as Permanent Representative for Rwanda to the UNO in Geneva and other International Organisations, including World Trade Organisation, WIPO, UNHCR, ITU, WHO.

In July 2009, he was appointed Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a post he holds to date.

In January 2011, Ambassador Gasana was elected Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), a UN platform that seeks to promote sustainable peace in post-conflict countries.

Born on July 2, 1962 in Bujumbura, Burundi, the father of three studied banking and business studies at the University of Applied Sciences of Cologne, and an Executive M.B.A. course at the European Business School in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

The newly appointed minister is scheduled to be sworn in today.

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