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

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

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

The Canadian and Quebec governments announced Tuesday they are pulling their support for former governor general Michaëlle Jean to remain atop the worldwide organization of French-speaking nations, backing instead the "consensus" candidate from Africa. French President Emmanuel Macron has backed her, but four former French ministers responsible for the la Francophonie signed an open letter last month saying Mushikiwabo has no place at the head of the organization.

Earlier Tuesday, Quebec's premier-designate Francois Legault tweeted that there was a need for what he called a new style of management for the organization, and that his province would support African countries' consensus.

France is seen as wanting to support the Rwandan candidate to gain favour in Africa where its influence is waning to the advantage of China and others. Rwandan President Paul Kagame has been labelled an authoritarian by rights groups.

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But, Jean has refused to back down despite her chances of securing another term being described as slim.

Bertin Leblanc says consensus implies a debate and that begins Thursday, when heads of state and government gather for the International Organization of La Francophonie summit in Armenia. Sources said the Canadian government tried unsuccessfully to convince Jean that re-election was improbable.

According to Radio France International, the Haitian-born Jean, a former journalist, hopes to have the support of up to 18 delegations going into Friday's vote.

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In July, African francophone countries officially rallied behind Mushikiwabo, a position consistent with their policy of backing an African candidate sensitive to the needs of states that comprise more than half of the OIF membership.

Trudeau and Jean had a one-on-one meeting upon the prime minister's arrival in Yerevan but no details were released. She will replace Canadian politician Michaelle 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.

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A big part of the concert will be dedicated to famed French singer Charles Aznavour, the son of Armenian immigrants who died on October 1 at the age of 94. "This momentum of solidarity was perhaps the greatest tribute that could have been made to him".

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