RWANDA: From an academician to cabinet minister: what you should know about Damascène Bizimana

Top Rwandese scholar appointed cabinet minister. [Image: @jeanbizimana/Twitter]
KIGALI, Rwanda—Jean Damascène Bizimana was on August 31 appointed minister of the newly formed Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement.

The ministry was created in July, and its focus would be on National unity, historical memory, and citizenship education, a move lauded by leaders of faith-based organizations in the country.

Until his appointment, the former academic and senator served as Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), an agency established in 2007 to prevent and fight against Genocide, its ideology, and overcoming its consequences.

Bizimana, a father of four, served as CNLG’s Executive Secretary since March 2015.

Up to that time, the 58-year old served in the Senate –the upper House of parliament of Rwanda where he was president of the foreign affairs, cooperation, and security committee, from October 2010 to March 2015.

Born in  1963 in Cyanika sector, in Nyamagabe district, Bizimana holds a PhD in law, with a specialization in International law, from the University of Toulouse in France which he obtained in February 2004.

His master’s degree in law was obtained from Montpellier 1 University in France. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and human sciences obtained in 1991.

From 2004 to 2006 he taught international law at the National University of Rwanda and at Kigali Independent University (ULK).

Between 2006 to 2009, he served as a member of the Rwandan National Commission which examined the role of the French government in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Among others, Bizimana was vice president of the National Commission that probed the downing of former president Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane in April 1994.

He is an academic researcher who has published many articles on national, regional, and international geopolitics, history, and consequences of the 1994 genocide, as well as genocide ideology denial.