Rwanda's Louise Mushikiwabo is new Secretary-General of La Francophonie

Rwanda's Louise Mushikiwabo is new Secretary-General of La Francophonie

Michaelle Jean is making a final public plea to hold on to her post as secretary general of the International Organization of la Francophonie.

A summit of the world community of French-speaking countries has kicked off in Yerevan, with France's President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attending.

La Francophonie is holding the summit this week in Armenia, where they are expected to select a new secretary general.

Canada has sent a signal that Rwanda's Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo could win the post of the Secretary General of the International Organisation of the French Speaking Nations (IOF).

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

Leblanc had said on the weekend that Jean had no intention of dropping out.

Traditionally, the selection of a secretary general is by agreement, not through a vote.

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A spokesman for Jean said Wednesday he was surprised at the Canadian and Quebec governments' decision to back Mushikiwabo before the summit even opens.

"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.

Thus with apparently limited global support and somewhat lukewarm Canadian support, Jean's re-election chances had been slim. "Canada will realize that it has no other backing, and it will join the consensus". She has called the media reports "smear campaigns, disinformation and defamation".

Federal Minister Mélanie Joly's attaché stated that Canada is "ready to join the consensus, as is the case in the Francophonie".

The candidacy is controversial because of Rwanda's poor human-rights record and the fact Rwanda replaced French with English in its education curriculum in 2010.

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.

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

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