Mushikiwabo poised to win Francophonie seat

James Marshall
October 13, 2018

Michaelle Jean has lost her bid for a second term as secretary general of la Francophonie.

Mushikiwabo was elected in a suspense-free vote on the last day of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) summit in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

Canada has sent a signal that Rwanda's Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo could win the post of the Secretary General of the International Organisation of the French Speaking Nations (IOF).

A spokesperson for Melanie Joly, the minister who oversees Canadian engagement in la Francophonie, said in an email that Canada would be supporting the "consensus view" on who should head the organization - Mushikiwabo has already garnered the support of France and the African Union.

"At a moment when we march toward the 50th anniversary of la Francophonie, lets ask ourselves here in Yerevan, in all conscience and in all responsibility, on which side of history do we want to be", Jean said.

Should Ms Jean concede, then the vote will be avoided and Ms Mushikiwabo will be declared the new secretary general.

Several federal government sources recently told The Canadian Press the re-election of Jean, who was chosen in 2014 in part due to the absence of a clear African front-runner, would be "difficult".

"I think it was outright wrong", Kagame said of Jean's message.

Over the past few months, Jean has had to try to defend herself against allegations of her improper and excessive spending. They said that if a consensus emerged, Canada would join it to avoid having the summit overshadowed by a fight for the top job.

Thus with apparently limited worldwide support and somewhat lukewarm Canadian support, Jean's re-election chances had been slim. She has called the media reports "smear campaigns, disinformation and defamation".

Rwanda's human rights record and a decision to replace French with English as the official language in 2008, were pointed out as issues that dent its leadership credentials.

Observers say Canada made a geopolitical calculation in choosing to abandon Jean in favour of the African camp, as Ottawa eyes a seat at the UN Security Council in 2020.

Despite not backing her, French President Emmanuel Macron also paid homage to Jean's defence of women's rights.

- with files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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