Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo has unveiled her manifesto for the Francophonie grouping, which she promises to implement once elected the secretary-general of the organisation.
In a lengthy statement posted on her website, Mushikiwabo outlines four pillars of her ‘Francophone agenda’ for the next four years if she is elected to the helm of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), a global community of French-speaking countries.
She cited increasing the influence of the French language, tackling youth unemployment, exchange of good practices, and increasing the relevance of la Francophonie on a global stage among her priorities.
The elections for the 84-member body are due on October 11 and 12 this year in Armenia, where Mushikiwabo will tussle it out with the current and third OIF secretary-general Michaelle Jean, the Haitian-born Canadian who is seeking a second term in office.
Mushikiwabo said that her manifesto seeks to find concrete solutions to the problems that are common to all member states and governments, pledging to help young people to realise their dreams and find their rightful space in society
“The theme of youth and full employment is a theme that is particularly close to my heart. In my country, Rwanda, more than half of the population is under 25 years old…as on the rest of the continent,” she said.
Investing in the youth, she pointed out, “means fostering positive impact it can have on very difficult issues today…which are common to all member states; the question of belonging and employment, the question of hope for young people.”
“This could address the difficult issues of migration. Youth must be armed against the desire for exile,” said the Rwandan chief diplomat.
With nearly 10 years of diplomatic experience, Mushikiwabo said she intends to use her address book and networks to mobilise member states to provide their political, moral and financial support to the youth Francophonie.
Talks jobs, skills and poverty
“Access for young Francophones to new information and communication technologies is a tool for creating jobs, wealth and the fight against poverty.
“I will also undertake to support all countries that wish to strengthen their policy on vocational and technical training, because to ensure francophone youth’s development, they must be able to have quality training,” she said.
Mushikiwabo stressed that each country of the OIF has its privileged field of competences, highlighting that the question of exchange of good practices and experience will be at the centre of her priorities.
“It is imperative to establish framework exchange systems between countries in all areas. In tax systems, in the field of national reconciliation, in the fight against corruption, in the development of different industries.
“Francophonie to be a tool at the service of development cooperation, efforts are needed to make it an attractive economic space in terms of access to financing and markets, the transfer of technology considering that some countries are badly in need of developing,” she said.
Talking about promoting French language, she said that once elected the secretary-general of La Francophonie she would give importance to French language in an increasingly multilingual world.
“We must increase the actions and initiatives aimed at teaching and using French to make it a widely spoken language as a useful language in terms of education, science, diplomacy, communication, business, law and social networks. Francophone countries must be visible and make a difference to today’s global and thorny issues,” she said.
‘Good governance a fundamental element’
Mushikiwabo stressed that the Francophonie must be a relevant organisation which plays its role of catalyst through good governance and exemplary transparency.
“Coming from Rwanda where the issue of good governance has been at the heart of the country’s recovery and its journey towards prosperity, this is a theme that is particularly close to my heart. Governance, both financial and administrative, is a fundamental element in this quest for relevance,” she said.
I will work with the member countries of the OIF in the field of good political, economic, administrative, social and cultural governance because most of the challenges related to socio-political crises, insecurity, armed conflict, illicit trafficking in arms and human beings stem mainly from the deficit in terms of good governance, she said.
The Rwandan foreign minister also touched on what she thinks can be the role of the Francophonie security on the African continent.
“Today, more than 70 per cent of the work of the UN Security Council is in Africa. Given the proportion of French-speaking countries on the continent, I believe that the Organisation can play a major role on this issue by directly engaging political leaders,” he said.
Mushikiwabo has been traversing several member countries of the Paris-based organization and major actors, including France, have since expressed support for her bid.