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France’s Macron on way to Armenia for French countries’ meet

14 October 2018

Jean, who has been secretary general of the organization of French-speaking nations since 2014, is seeking a second term and will be up against Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo when members make their choice this week. Rwandan President Paul Kagame has been labelled an authoritarian by rights groups.

Mushikiwabo has support from France and the African Union countries, leaving Jean's chances of retaining the top job slim, particularly without Canada and Quebec in her corner.

Her spokesman, Bertin Leblanc, has said consensus must be reached by the heads of state and governments behind closed doors.

Mushikiwabo hailed the return of an African to the office. "The Francophonie is there to weigh in on matters whether it is in the heart of the United Nations or in our regional organisations", said Mushikiwabo, who takes over in January for a four-year term.

Quebec premier-designate Francois Legault tweeted Tuesday that his government would not support Jean and would join what he called the "African consensus".

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.

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.

In the run up to the Francophonie vote, opposition leader Victoire Ingabire was unexpectedly freed from jail, and government critic Diane Rwigara was granted bail in an ongoing trial after a year in prison.

The official said neither Kagame, who made a speech in French at the OIF summit, nor France at this point wanted a resumption of full diplomatic relations.

As she continued her bid for re-election to the post, Jean has in recent months criticised the media for its "smear campaigns, disinformation and defamation" about such things as spending on her OIF provided lavish Paris apartment and other issues.

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

"I imagine that Madame Jean thinks that she has to prove herself, and she's doing this on principle", Coulon said.

Despite not backing her, French President Emmanuel Macron also paid homage to Jean's defence of women's rights.

The forum promised to participate and legendary French singer of Armenian origin Charles Aznavour.

"We are united not only through the French language, but also through our vision of the world which is being updated day by day".

France’s Macron on way to Armenia for French countries’ meet