Cut adrift by Canada, Michaelle Jean continues bid for Francophonie post

Katie Ramirez
October 13, 2018

"We have tremendous respect for madam Jean's track record as Secretary General of la Francophonie, particularly as it relates to education, and empowerment of women and girls".

Members of the worldwide 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.

Hours before he was scheduled to board Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plane for the summit, Legault released a written statement saying, "Africa has enormous potential, both for our economy and for the future of the French language".

The Canadian and Quebec governments announced Tuesday they are pulling their support for former governor general Michaëlle Jean to remain atop the global organization of French-speaking nations, backing instead the "consensus" candidate from Africa.

"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.

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.

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On the weekend, he said Jean was not planning on dropping out of the race.

On Tuesday, the Canadian and Quebec governments announced they were pulling support for Jean to remain the head of the worldwide organization of French-speaking nations, electing to support the "consensus" candidate instead.

Kagame described Jean's comments during her final public address on Thursday as bitter and angry.

A spokesman for Jean today expressed surprise at the Canadian and Quebec governments decision to back Mushikiwabo. "To tell people who've made a choice that they are wrong - that it should be her and not everyone else - in that way, I think it displays the problem". La Francophonie has 54 full member states and governments.

The Rwandan minister already enjoys the support of France and the African Union.

Canada may have chosen to abandon Jean partly for geopolitical and strategic reasons as it tries to secure a seat on the UN Security Council in 2020. At the United Nations, they represent more than a quarter of the member countries.

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