Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Jean to continue bid for Francophonie top job

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Michaelle Jean at the headquarters of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie in Paris France François Legault not supporting Michaëlle Jean's Francophonie bid
Elijah Vega | 13 October, 2018, 02:45

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to Michaelle Jean in his speech at the opening of the summit of la Francophonie on Thursday in Armenia, just hours before the former governor general finds out whether she'll be able to continue on as secretary general.

She is facing strong competition from Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

A spokesman for Jean today expressed surprise at the Canadian and Quebec governments decision to back Mushikiwabo. Her spokesman, Bertin Leblanc, has said any consensus must be reached by the heads of state and governments behind closed doors.

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

Over the past few months, Jean has had to try to defend herself against allegations of her improper and excessive spending.

Her principle rival Mushikiwabo has support from France and the African Union countries, leaving Jean's chances of retaining the top job extremely thin.

She was elected at the 17th summit of La Francophonie held in Yerevan the capital of Armenia.

Jean, appointed to the post in 2014, was the only secretary general to not hail from Africa since the post was created in 1997.

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"With respect to the choice of the next Secretary General, Canada will join the consensus view as is the organization's custom".

Legault tweeted Tuesday that his government would not support Jean and would join what he called the "African consensus".

Legault also said it was "time to give way to a new style of management".

According to Canadian media reports, the Minister in charge of la Francophonie, Ms Melanie Joly, said her country will be joining the consensus in Yerevan and back the favourite candidate.

Ms Mushikiwabo has already received the backing of French President Emmanuel Macron, a significant support since it is a tradition for the candidate backed by France to secure the position.

And in 2010, French was replaced by English as the national official language in Rwanda, particularly in the education curriculum.

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. La Francophonie has 54 full member states and governments.

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