Rwandan woman chosen to head body for French-speaking world

Outgoing Secretary-General of the Francophonie, Michaelle Jean, left, shakes hands with Secretary-General designate Louise Mushikiwabo during the closing session of the Francophonie Summit in Yerevan, Armenia on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
Francophonie Secretary-General designate Louise Mushikiwabo delivers a speech during the closing session of the Francophonie Summit in Yerevan, Armenia on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in the closing session of the Francophonie Summit in Yerevan, Armenia on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)

YEREVAN, Armenia — Rwanda's top diplomat Louise Mushikiwabo has been chosen to lead the body that represents French speakers around the world, becoming the first African woman to hold the post.

The foreign minister replaces Canada's Michaelle Jean, who had sought re-election for the top job at the International Organization of Francophonie.

The decision was announced Friday by the organization and by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian at a summit of member countries in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

Mushikiwabo promised to work to spread the French language and boost employment opportunities for youth in the organization's member states.

The group has 54 member states and 30 associate or observer members, representing more than 900 million people, mostly in Africa.

French President Emmanuel Macron had backed Mushikiwabo's candidacy.

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