36.6 C
Saturday, January 18, 2020

Mixed reaction trail choice of Rwandan as new La Francophonie chief

The International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) is poised to name Rwanda’s Louise Mushikiwabo as its new chief. She is due to succeed the Canadian incumbent, rival candidate Michaëlle Jean, in a suspense-free vote on Friday in Armenia. 

In normal times, African countries would have loudly saluted the choice of Rwanda’s Mushikiwabo as head of the world community of French-speaking countries.

Instead, her nomination set to be enshrined on the second and final day of the OIF’s summit in Yerevan has met with tight lips or muttered criticism.

For some African commentators, the decision is a stitchup between French President Emmanuel Macron and Rwandan President Paul Kagame that does little for France’s reputation or the OIF’s mission.

“The silence is deafening,” said Mathias Hounkpe of OSIWA, the West African branch of the Open Society network of thinktanks, describing how African countries have responded.

Other voices harshly recall France’s history of back-door dealings in former sub-Saharan colonies, often at the expense of human rights and democracy.

“It’s like Françafrique,” said Ivory Coast commentator and author Alex Kipre, referring to a notorious policy of interference that Paris insists was ditched years ago.

Macron “has used La Francophonie as a French toy”, said Paul Berenger, head of the opposition Mauritian Militant Movement on the French-speaking Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

“This is bad news for La Francophonie. It is supposed to promote the values of the French language and human rights.”

Created in 1970 along lines blazed by the Commonwealth, the OIF brings together 58 countries and regional governments, representing 274 million speakers of French around the world.

Just months ago, the big name expected to be adopted in Yerevan was Jean, the current OIF secretary general. A Canadian of Haitian descent, she became the first woman and non-African to helm the organisation in 2014.

But her fortunes changed in May when Kagame visited Paris.

After talks with Macron, he announced in English that his foreign minister would be seeking the leadership of the world’s francophone community.

Macron declared his support, saying Mushikiwabo had “every quality for the job”.

The Macron-Kagame pitch, say analysts, is part of an effort to turn the page of nearly a quarter-century of acrimony, rooted in accusations by Rwanda rejected by France of French involvement in the 1994 genocide.

Rwanda’s fury at France was such that in 2003 it made English an official language alongside the country’s first language, Kinyarwanda, and French.

Five years later English replaced French as the language of education, and in 2009 Rwanda joined the Commonwealth, even though as a former Belgian territory its historic ties to Britain were negligible.

In July, African francophone countries officially rallied behind Mushikiwabo.

This was in line with their policy of backing an African candidate sensitive to the needs of states that comprise more than half of the OIF membership.

‘Problem’ Rwanda

But their support was lip service, said Senegalese political analyst Babacar Justin Ndiaye.

Rwanda “is a problem”, he said, saying the country had “turned its back” on La Francophonie in the past, and its record on human rights was at odds with the organisation’s commitment to democracy.

“France has been manoeuvering to satisfy Rwanda, to win it over,” he told AFP.

Mushikiwabo’s level of French was “rough”, he said, quipping that the Académie Française the porticoed Paris institution that is the official guardian of the French language would be “dumbstruck”.

The choice of Mushikiwabo “has been rushed through politics have taken precedence over language, democracy, demography”, he said.

“Many factors have been sacrificed on the altar of diplomacy.”

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Latest News

South African man shoots his wife, son and mother then himself

The Secunda community in South Africa is reeling in shock after a man Carel Naude, shot his wife, their disabled child, his own mother...

Museum in Benin rep. celebrates return of stolen artifacts from France

More than two years after France promised to return colonial-era treasures to their African homes, Benin — ostensibly the first recipient of the groundbreaking...

Suspense in Guinea-Bissau as Supreme Court calls for clarification of presidential vote result

The outcome of Guinea-Bissau’s presidential election was thrown into doubt on Friday after the Supreme Court called for a clarification of the tally hours...

Eastern Libya halts more than half the country’s oil output

Eastern Libya ports controlled by commander Khalifa Haftar, who is trying to seize the capital Tripoli, are shutting down oil exports, slashing national crude...

Details of Zimbabwe vice president’s nasty divorce exposes luxurious life of elites

Zimbabwe is gripped by the explosive details of charges being made in the divorce of First Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and his wife Marry...

Ethiopia mega dam to be filled ‘within seven years’

Ethiopian ministers have said the country will fill up the Grand Renaissance Dam over a period of "between four to seven years" despite Egypt's...

UN says 14 killed in an attack on Fulani village in Mali

Fourteen people were killed and two wounded on Thursday in an attack on a Fulani village in central Mali, according to the UN, in...

Kipchoge to go head to head with Ethiopia’s Bekele in London Marathon

Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele, the only men to go under two hours, two minutes for the marathon, will go head to head over...

‘I caught HIV on a one-night stand and now I want to warn you’

A Kenyan woman who was infected with HIV is speaking out about the risks of getting infected after she became HIV-positive following a one-night...

Thousands of Jammeh supporters rally in Gambia, call for his return

Thousands of supporters of The Gambia's former leader Yahya Jammeh have demonstrated on the outskirts of the capital Banjul, demanding his return from self-exile. The protest on Thursday came...

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -
%d bloggers like this: