|Minister for Social Affairs, the Status of Women and National Solidarity|
|Born||June 17, 1937|
|Died||June 4, 1995 (aged 57)|
|Political party||Civic Forum|
Central African Republican Party
Jeanne-Marie Ruth-Rolland (née Rolland) (17 June 1937 – 4 June 1995) was a Central African politician, social worker and teacher. She is regarded as the first female African presidential candidate.
Ruth-Rolland began her career as the supervisor for the education system of the French territory of Ubangi-Shari in 1956 and the supervised the Central African Republic national education system following independence from France in 1960, continuing to teach until 1964. Following this she was employed as a social worker, helping street children, and as the head of army social services in the Central African Armed Forces, leaving the forces with the rank of battalion chief.
Ruth-Rolland became an advisor to the government in 1979 and later was appointed as the Minister for the Promotion of Women's Status. During this time she worked heavily with street children and was nicknamed "Aunt Ruth", a name which continued to be used throughout her life. Ruth-Rolland was the president of the Central African Red Cross. During this time she founded and lead the Central African Republican Party (Parti Republicain Centrafricain (PRC)).
In 1981 André Kolingba became president of the Central African Republic, and in October, 1983, Kolingba ordered the arrest of Ruth-Rolland for her denouncement of the embezzlement of government funds by Minister for Social Affairs Gaston Gambor and Minister for Water and Forests Sébastien Guipi. Ruth-Rolland's subsequent detainment at a police station was opposed by Amnesty International. In August, 1987 Ruth-Rolland was jailed for three years by a Special Jury for Political Matters for her criticism of Kolingba's corrupt government (officially "incitement"). Although released two-months early in September 1989, she was arrested again in December that year for refusing to make way for the presidential entourage. She was then detained at the National Security Company paramilitary camp until April 1991.
The following year, Ruth-Rolland was a candidate in the first multiparty elections and was elected deputy for the seat of Bakouma. As her own political party had not been legalised by the time of the election, she ran as the leader of the Civic Forum party. The election, however, was cancelled by Supreme Court of the Central African Republic and re-held the following year in 1993, when Ruth-Rolland was able to run under her own Central African Republican Party. She was elected despite attempts by President Kolingba to annul the ballot. Later that year she was appointed as the Minister for Social Affairs, the Status of Women and National Solidarity.
Ruth-Rolland left her ministerial position on August 22, 1993, to run as a candidate in the Central African Republic general election, being the first woman in Africa to run for president. Despite popularity as a candidate, she was not elected, acquiring 1% of votes. Following the election she resumed her position as deputy of Bakouma and ran a gold prospector's consortium in the eastern regions of the country.
Personal life and death
Jeanne-Marie Ruth-Rolland's father was French and her mother was African. She married a French arms dealer from Bangui with whom she had five children. She was an avid diamond-collector and pursued this hobby in her later years.
In her final years, Ruth-Rolland became ill and was evacuated to Paris, France, where she died, aged 58, in hospital on June 4, 1995. The cause of her death was not given. A memorial has been erected in Bakouma in her honor.
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