Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praises Michaelle Jean at Francophonie summit


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

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec premier-designate Francois Legault set to arrive in Yerevan later Wednesday, there were fears within the Canadian government the battle for the job would overshadow the summit.

The appointment sealed on the second day of the summit of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) in Armenia, will be regarded as a win for Rwanda, France and the African continent.

Her words were clearly aimed at her rival for the post, Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

After months of supporting her, the Canadian and Quebec governments announced this week that they would rally around the "consensus" candidate, Mushikiwabo.

Jean has been campaigning to continue her position as Secretary General of la Francophonie, a group of 54 French-speaking nations.

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

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Jean has been secretary general of the organization since 2014.

"I imagine that Madame Jean thinks that she has to prove herself, and she's doing this on principle", Coulon said. Sources said the Canadian government tried unsuccessfully to convince Jean that re-election was improbable. 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. "Canada will realize that it has no other backing, and it will join the consensus".

Legault also said it was "time to give way to a new style of management".

The Rwandan candidate is not without critics.

Rwanda's human rights record and a decision to replace French with English as the official language in 2008, were pointed out as issues that dent its leadership credentials.

Canada's joining of the consensus view is a huge boost for Minister Mushikiwabo who has already won support of French President Emmanuel Macron and was overwhelmingly ensorsed by the African Union's member States.

Observers say Canada made a geopolitical calculation in choosing to abandon Jean in favour of the African camp, as Ottawa eyes a seat at the UN Security Council in 2020.