Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praises Michaelle Jean at Francophonie summit

Leroy Wright
October 14, 2018

But Michaelle Jean, the former governor general and current holder of the top job at the global body, showed no signs of abandoning her candidacy despite losing the support of her home country and province.

Michaelle Jean has lost her bid for a second term as secretary general of la Francophonie.

A spokesperson for Melanie Joly, the minister who oversees Canadian engagement in la Francophonie, said in an email that Canada would be supporting the "consensus view" on who should head the organization - Mushikiwabo has already garnered the support of France and the African Union. Thursday night, the voice of the "son of Armenia" was stuck on the famous Republic square of Yerevan, at a concert given in his honour. He said Jean came across as bitter and angry, considering a consensus had formed backing Mushikiwabo.

For Universite de Montreal researcher Jocelyn Coulon, the tense battle over the secretary general post should serve as a lesson to the organization.

There are 54 countries with eligible votes.

"It is the first important signal that both Rwanda and France are willing to engage in friendly gestures", said Rwandan political analyst Christopher Kayumba, adding some government officials had begun tweeting in French in recent days. "She thinks she's the best to continue in this job, and she's convinced that she will be able on Friday morning, when she meets with the heads of state, to change their minds".

The appointment was confirmed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office, which said there was "consensus" for the Rwandan lawmaker.

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Trudeau said he had a "frank and direct" discussion about human rights when he met Kagame at the summit Thursday.

Jean has been secretary general of the organization since 2014.

The general theme of La Francophonie summit is "Living together in solidarity, shared humanistic values, and respect for diversity: a source of peace and prosperity in La Francophonie", while the logotype of the summit is pomegranate as a symbol of peace and prosperity throughout the francophone area.

Jean has refused to back down, despite her diminishing chances of securing another term.

Thus with apparently limited worldwide support and somewhat lukewarm Canadian support, Jean's re-election chances had been slim.

Jean had been dogged by stories of excessive spending and questionable expenses during her mandate. Quebecor media outlets reported she spent $500,000 renovating her rented Paris residence, as well as $20,000 on a piano, but she's defended the spending in interviews.

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.

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