12 October 2018

Rwanda: Francophonie Summit Picks New Secretary-General Today

After months on the campaign trail that took her to different countries across the world, today is the moment of truth for Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

The minister is on the ballot for the post of Secretary General of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and the vote will be cast today at the summit for the body in Yerevan, Armenia.

The organisation was created in 1970 to promote the French language, peace, and sustainable development in member states.

Heads of State and Government of the organisation's member countries are set to vote today, choosing between Mushikiwabo and incumbent Jean Michaëlle, a Canadian of Haitian origin.

Mushikiwabo is favourite after months on the campaign trail which has seen her visit over 22 countries as well as feature in international gatherings.

Most notably, she received a unanimous endorsement from the African Union, during the last AU summit held in July in Mauritania, which assures her of 29 votes from the bloc.

There are 54 countries with eligible votes.

The campaign took Mushikiwabo to; Madagascar, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Senegal, Cameroon, Mauritania (during AU Summit), Guinea, Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, Burkina Faso, Vietnam, Lao, Cambodia, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Romania, Armenia, Lebanon and Tunisia.

Her campaign agenda, among other things, includes a promise to improve the relevance of the organisation to make it more visible and relevant on the global stage.

Mushikiwabo is also promising to play a role in addressing youth unemployment in the francophone countries, a challenge which has led to consequences such as mass migration, terrorism and radicalisation.

Her agenda also includes increasing exchange of good practices within the francophone members.

Analysts of the elections say that, so far, Mushikiwabo is expected to enjoy a landslide victory as even Canada, where her competitor hails from, has since endorsed her. Out of the 84 member states of the organisation, 54 have voting rights.

French President Emmanuel Macron had earlier in May this year endorsed Mushikiwabo for the job, saying that she meets all qualities.

If elected, her mandate will include steering the 84-member organisation towards its objectives to promoting French language and cultural and linguistic diversity, promote peace, democracy and human rights and supporting education, training, higher education and scientific research.

The organisation's 84 member states and observers represent over one-third of UN Members States and account for a population of over 900 million people, including 274 million French speakers.

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