Michaëlle Jean Opens New Page

The first female leader of the International Organisation of La Francophonie has declared her intention to help the organisation gain “new relevance.

During a press conference upon her designation as the new Secretary General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF), the Canadian woman with roots from Haiumlti, Michaeumllle Jean, told pressmen

“I am very excited at the idea of working with all these women and men who live the Francophonie everyday,” adding that her priorities will be promoting the rights of women and children, amongst other things.

Jean, who actively campaigned for the position with the backing of the Canadian government, fended off challenges from four other candidates. The 57-year-old succeeds Abdou Diouf, who held the post for 12 years. Michaelle Jean becomes the third leader of the International Organisation of La Francophonie and the first woman to hold the post. Jean, who spoke frequently on the plight of female victims of violence when she was Governor General of Canada, has already made known her intention to help la Francophonie gain “new relevance” with a focus on issues as women’s emancipation and children’s rights as well the promotion of democracy and economic betterment.

“One of the most ambitious and daring objectives that la Francophonie has ever set for itself is the idea of an economic Francophonie,” Jean said after her selection. “We need to work together, unite our efforts, especially as countries want growth, prosperity and development,” the new Francophonie Secretary General stressed. At a time of political promotion, personal ambition and international aid, the arrival of the former journalist to the helm of IOF has been lauded by leaders of La Francophonie, especially Canadian Federal and provincial governments that supported her candidacy.

“With Michaeumllle Jean, La Francophonie is prepared to write a new page in its history,” said the out-going Secretary General, Abdou Diouf, in an address to leaders at the organisation’s 15th summit in Dakar, Senegal. “Jean is the ideal person to promote French and the values of the organisation because she is an example of the renewal and modernity that La Francophonie of the 21st Century needs. We are confident that she will fervently and passionately defend not only the French language and culture, but also respect for the shared values of peace, democracy and human rights that have solidified the belonging of each nation in La Francophonie,” said the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston.

Quebec Premier, Philippe Couillard, has described Jean as “the incarnation of the new vision of La Francophonie: modern, young and dynamic” while New Brunswick Premier, Brian Gallant, said she was “a consensus builder who can represent the interests of Francophones around the world.” Simon Brault, Chief Executive Officer for the Canada Council for the Arts also noted that Michaelle Jean has the stature and moral authority needed to help La Francophonie reinvent itself.

The 57-member organisation, which includes Canada and the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick, which have their own status within the organization, has been mired in tensions in recent years with some African members unhappy at how it is, in their view, dominated by non-African countries. Some observers have described Jean’s appointment as a win-win for all, not only because of her personality and origin, but especially as she has gotten a job she coveted.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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