Francophonie summit: Mushikiwabo poised to win top seat

Wednesday October 10 2018

Canadian Michaëlle Jean (left) and Rwandan minister Louise Mushikiwabo

Canadian Michaëlle Jean (left) and Rwandan minister Louise Mushikiwabo in Yerevan, Armenia on October 9, 2018. The two are contenders for the post of the secretary general of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). PHOTO | COURTESY 

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Rwanda’s top diplomat Louise Mushikiwabo looks set to take over the leadership of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the unifying body of French-speaking countries.

As the OIF summit kicks off in Yerevan, Armenia on Wednesday, there appears to be a consensus in favour of Ms Mushikiwabo.

Rwandan Foreign Affairs minister is facing off with the incumbent Canadian Michaëlle Jean, who has held the post for the past four years.

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.

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

“We have tremendous respect for Madame Jean's track record as secretary general of la Francophonie, particularly as it relates to the education ‎and empowerment of women and girls.

“With respect to the choice of the next secretary general, Canada will join the consensus view as is the organisation's custom,” Ms Joly said in a statement.

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.

She also has the full backing of the African Union, which directly guarantees her 29 of the 58 votes.

Out of the 84 members of OIF, 58 have voting rights while 26 are observers.

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