Michaelle Jean defeated in re-election bid for secretary general of la Francophonie


YEREVAN, Armenia — Michaelle Jean lost her bid for a second term as secretary general of la Francophonie on Friday, as member nations opted for Rwanda’s foreign minister to take up the mantle going forward.

In a closed session at the organization’s biennial summit in Armenia, members of the organization of French-speaking nations chose Louise Mushikiwabo to replace Jean.

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

Mushikiwabo had the support of France and several African Union countries going into the summit and both Canada and Quebec said they would back the “consensus candidate,” pulling their support for Jean earlier this week.

Jean, appointed to the post in 2014, was the only secretary general to not hail from Africa since the post was created in 1997.

After a four-year term marked by controversy, the former governor general was considered a long shot for a second stint but Jean refused to withdraw her candidacy as support dwindled.

On Thursday, she made a final plea to member nations to hold onto the post without naming her Rwandan rival, warning them that rights and democracy shouldn’t take a back seat to partisan ambitions.

“At a moment when we march toward the 50th anniversary of la Francophonie, let’s ask ourselves here in Yerevan, in all conscience and in all responsibility, on which side of history do we want to be,” Jean said.

“Are we ready to accept that international organizations are used for partisan purposes?” Jean asked. “Are we ready to accept that democracy, rights and freedoms are reduced to mere words, that we make them meaningless in the name of realpolitik?”

The Rwandan government, of which Mushikiwabo is a high-ranking member, has been accused by various humanitarian groups of flouting democratic rights and press freedoms.

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