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Francophone Leaders Want Greater Say In World Affairs

Some 38 Heads of State and government as well as high-level delegation leaders from 32 other countries ended the 13th summit of the Francophonie in Montreux, Switzerland, yesterday with a clear resolve to get the world’s French-speaking countries play a bigger role in the conduct of world affairs.

President Paul Biya and peers from around the world ended their summit in the Swiss resort of Montreux yesterday with a clear resolve to ensure a greater role for the Francophonie. On paper, that looks a little difficult, especially as the Francophonie membership is drawn essentially from the poor counties, notably in Africa. But, infact, at Montreux, they found one great advocate of that course in the person of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In his address at the opening session of the summit, he took a very clear posture of one ready to take the francophone cause to where ever possible. He announced to the summit that he was going to take advantage of the French presidency of the G-20 and G-8 starting in the days ahead to press forth, not only the Francophonie cause, but a greater role for the developing nations. He questioned the wisdom in expecting peace across the world when numerous important actors were left out of the decision-making process and drew thunderous applause when he said the time had come for the African continent to provide a candidate for a seat on the UN Security Council. In the same manner, he suggested that Latin America be given the same consideration while the economic might of Japan and Germany and the demographic strength of India made them potential candidates for the Security Council membership. Mr Sarkozy, who is leader of the sole Francophone country with a seat in the Council, had arrived in Montreux barely minutes before the opening of the summit in a French military helicopter and was visibly seen to be given the respect and consideration of the main provider of funds for the International Organisation of the Francophonie with its membership of 70 nations or national communities among which are 56 full members and 14 observers spanning the five continents. With the tone set by Mr Sarkozy, the determination to get the body into a more proactive posture in international politics could only be evident. And there are arguments to show, least of which is not the one-third membership of the UN and the charisma of the current Secretary-General of the organization and Senegal’s former President Abdou Diouf.

It was probably in the effort to manifest this new strength that several speakers at the opening ceremony indirectly expressed their support for a second four-year term for Mr Diouf. In fact, the election scheduled for yesterday Sunday shortly before the closing ceremony, was brought back to Saturday. The outgoing Secretary-General got a clean sheet of approval from the summit and is being endowed with the responsibility of giving the Francophonie, this new thrust in international politics.


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