Cut adrift by Canada, Michaelle Jean continues bid for Francophonie post

Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo. LUDOVIC MARIN AFP Getty Images

The Canadian government announced Tuesday that it will not support former Governor General Michaelle Jean's bid for re-election as the head of la Francophonie.

Darren Ornitz / Reuters Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo of Rwanda addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York September 26, 2015.

A summit of the world community of French-speaking countries has kicked off in Yerevan, with France's President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attending.

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

In July, African francophone countries officially rallied behind Mushikiwabo, a position consistent with their policy of backing an African candidate sensitive to the needs of states that comprise more than half of the OIF membership.

Jean's spokesman, Bertin Leblanc, told The Canadian Press Tuesday there would be a reaction from Jean "no doubt calmly, tomorrow morning".

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

In the opinion of several observers, the outgoing secretary-general already had infinitesimal chances of being entrusted with the reins of the institution for a second term in the run-up to the summit on October 11 and 12. Among la Francophonie's 54 full members, only Haiti - her country of birth - continues to back her, he said. "That is why I intend to support a candidacy from this continent".

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.

Over the past few months, Jean has had to try to defend herself against allegations of her improper and excessive spending.

"La Francophonie must be the space that fights for the rights of women, and I want to salute the work that was done by Michaelle Jean, to whom I pay tribute, who strongly mobilized in this fight", Macron said near the end of his opening remarks.

Anne-Laure Cattelot, a French Member of Parliament, said: "24 years after the genocide that devastated Rwanda, Louise Mushikiwabo is appointed general secretary of the OIF".

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