The Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) Louise Mushikiwabo reacted to an incident which saw the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, boycott the official group photo of leaders at the 18th Summit for French-speaking countries in Djerba, Tunisia.
The Congolese Premier reportedly protested participating in the group photo after pushing to have the OIF meeting condemn Rwanda for alleged support to M23 rebels and when the summit didn’t, he chose not to participate in the photo session.
Speaking during a press conference after the summit, Mushikiwabo, who was unanimously elected to lead the body that brings together 88 French speaking nations, said that she did not notice that the Congolese PM boycotted the photo session.
“I did not pay attention to who was in the photo or not. If he didn’t take part in the photo session, it is sad because we would have wished to have him too,” Mushikiwabo said, when asked about the matter.
Lukonde, who represented President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi, reportedly refused to pose next to President Paul Kagame in protest, a message that almost went unnoticed.
However, a different photo from the meeting showed PM Lukonde attentively listen as President Kagame talked Macky Sall, the President of Senegal, who is also the current chair of the African Union (AU), President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi and other leaders, which left social media users baffled.
OIF discussed conflicts on the continent
Mushikiwabo said that different conflicts in different parts of the world were given ‘lengthy attention’ during the summit, including the situation in Eastern DRC. President Emmanuel Macron, who has also been among the leadings pushing efforts to resolve crisis attended the meeting and held talks with President Kagame.
“All the conflict zones were the subject of long debates. The IOF is an organisation that can support and drive efforts to mediate between parties in conflict,” she said, refuting claims that the OIF isn’t doing much to help resolve key issues facing member states.
The OIF SG admitted that the defiance among young people in francophone Africa comes from political disillusionment and frustrations over daily life, all of which must be addressed.
Founded in 1970, the OIF aims to promote the French language, develop economic cooperation and help mediate international conflicts. President Macron vowed to make sure that the OIF reclaims its diplomatic role.
Tunisia, and said he hoped elections in December, for a largely powerless parliament, would lead to “a democracy in good health”.
DRC had been expected to opposed the re-election of Mushikiwabo but the former Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister was overwhelmingly backed for a second term by member states.