French-speaking bloc examines unrest in Africa

Issued on: 20/11/2022 – 21:51

Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) Louise Mushikiwabo holds a press conference after the closing of the 18th Summit for French-speaking countries in Tunisia’s island resort of Djerba, on November 20, 2022. © Fethi Belaid, AFP

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Facing calls to do more to resolve global crises, the world’s French-speaking leaders met in Tunisia Sunday to discuss growing instability and popular discontent in francophone Africa.


But tensions crept into the International Organisation of La (IOF) conference itself when the Prime Minister of the , Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, refused to pose for a photo next to , President of .

The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels who have seized swathes of territory in its eastern region, displacing tens of thousands of people and igniting regional tensions.

The head of the 88-member IOF bloc, Louise Mushikiwabo, said Sunday that “all the conflict zones were the subject of long debates”.

“The IOF is an organisation that can support and catalyse (efforts) to mediate between parties in conflict,” she said.

The organisation, whose annual budget is under 100 million euros, has been accused of being “powerless” in the face of fraudulent elections, power grabs and coups in many of its member states.

, Mushikiwabo told AFP that “the defiance that we’re seeing among young people in francophone Africa comes from political disillusionment” and frustrations over daily life. 

The IOF, founded in 1970, aims to promote the French language, develop economic cooperation and help mediate international conflicts.

Many African leaders have expressed dismay at the West’s rapid response to the war in Ukraine, in contrast to conflicts in their own countries.

Still, said “a declaration of all the members” had stated “a very clear position on the war launched by Russia in “.

Macron also said Saturday that the IOF should reclaim its diplomatic role, and Paris later announced that it would seek to take on the organisation’s rotating presidency from 2024.

‘s President and Prime Minister were also among the leaders attending the two-day gathering that ends on Sunday.

This year’s conference is a diplomatic boon for President , whose government has faced international criticism since a sweeping power grab last year in the only democracy to have emerged from the .

Trudeau told journalists that Canada was “preoccupied by the current situation” in Tunisia, and said he hoped elections in December, for a largely powerless parliament, would lead to “a democracy in good health”.


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