The French-speaking bloc investigates the unrest in Africa

The French-speaking bloc investigates the unrest in Africa


Amid calls for more to be done to resolve global crises, French-speaking world leaders met in Tunisia on Sunday to discuss growing instability and popular discontent in francophone Africa.

But tensions also crept in at the International Organization of Francophonie (IOF) conference itself, when DRC Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde refused to pose for a photograph alongside Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda .

The DRC has accused Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels who have seized tracts of land in its eastern region, displaced tens of thousands and ignited regional tensions.

The leader of the 88-strong IOF bloc, Louise Mushikiwabo, said Saturday to strive to be a “link that can be used to prevent tensions from escalating into conflict.”

But Senegalese civil society figure Alioune Tine said the IOF had proved “completely powerless in the face of fraudulent elections, third mandates (African leaders) and military coups” in Mali, Guinea, Chad and Burkina Faso.

On Sunday, delegates to the conference on the island of Djerba were also due to attend workshops on youth and women’s entrepreneurship before a business forum begins.

Ahead of the summit, Mushikiwabo told AFP that “the defiance we see among young people in francophone Africa stems from political disillusionment” and frustrations with daily life.

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

Many African leaders have expressed dismay at the West’s quick response to the war in Ukraine as opposed to wars in their own countries.

Still, Macron said “a statement by all members” expressed “a very clear position on the war started by Russia in Ukraine.”

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

Senegal’s President Macky Sall and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were also among the leaders attending the two-day gathering, which ends Sunday.

This year’s conference is a diplomatic boon for Tunisian President Kais Saied, whose government has faced international criticism since a sweeping takeover of power last year in the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings.

Macron alluded to concerns about the country’s political future on Saturday, saying that “fundamental freedoms are an integral part” of Tunisia’s “democratic achievements”.

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