French-speaking bloc examines unrest in Africa

© AFP/Fethi Belaid

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 Francophonie (IOF) conference itself when the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, refused to pose for a photo next to Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.

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, who was re-elected for a second term on Sunday, said 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.

Ahead of the summit on the Tunisian island of Djerba, Mushikiwabo said that "the defiance that we're seeing among young people in francophone Africa comes from political disillusionment" and frustrations over daily life.

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.

(with AFP)


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