Canada not to support former governor general for la Francophonie re-election

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 13, 2018

Members of the global organization of French-speaking countries will choose between Jean, who has held the position since 2014, and Mushikiwabo, who has served as Rwanda's foreign affairs minister since 2009, during la Francophonie's summit in Armenia on October 11-12.

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. "With the summit beginning (Thursday), no doubt this discussion will take place among the heads of state and of governments behind closed doors". She will replace Canadian politician Michaelle Jean.

Ahead of the polls, only Canada and her native country Haiti had expressed support for Ms Jean.

"La Francophonie must be the space that fights for the rights of women, and I want to salute the work that was done by Michaelle Jean, to whom I pay tribute, who strongly mobilized in this fight", Macron said near the end of his opening remarks.

Jean had indicated she is seeking re-election to the post of Secretary-General, and had the support of Canada's Liberal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

A spokesman for Jean today expressed surprise at the Canadian and Quebec governments decision to back Mushikiwabo.

Traditionally, the election of a secretary general is reached by consensus, not by vote.

Jean has been campaigning to continue her position as Secretary General of la Francophonie, a group of 54 French-speaking nations. Sources said the Canadian government tried unsuccessfully to convince Jean that re-election was improbable.

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

While the Prime Minister's Office wouldn't say explicitly it was withdrawing support for Jean, a spokesman for the federal minister responsible for la Francophonie, Melanie Joly, said in an email Tuesday that Canada was ready to "rally around the consensus". Quebecor media outlets reported she spent $500,000 renovating her rented Paris residence, as well as $20,000 on a piano.

The Rwandan candidate is not without critics.

Mushikiwabo had the support of France and several African Union countries going into the summit.

Ironically Rwanda, a former Belgian colony where French was the lingua franca, switched to English as the language of education in 2008 and joined the Commonwealth a year after.

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