POLITICS
10/09/2018 17:03 EDT | Updated 10/10/2018 09:35 EDT

Michaelle Jean Loses Backing Of Canada, Quebec Governments For Francophonie Leadership

Quebec's premier-designate has also pulled his support.

Michaelle Jean, Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, is shown at OIF Headquarters in Paris, France on April 16, 2018.
Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Michaelle Jean, Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, is shown at OIF Headquarters in Paris, France on April 16, 2018.

MONTREAL — The Canadian and Quebec governments are pulling their support for former governor general Michaelle Jean to remain as head of the international organization of French-speaking nations, backing instead the "consensus'' candidate from Africa.

Members of la Francophonie will choose between Jean — who has held the top spot since 2014 — and Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo during the organization's summit in Armenia on Oct. 11-12.

The ex-governor general was considered a long shot to keep her position after France and the African Union publicly backed Mushikiwabo.

Quebec Premier-designate Francois Legault tweeted today that his province will not support Jean and will instead join what he called the African consensus.

Darren Ornitz / Reuters
Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo of Rwanda addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York September 26, 2015.

Hours before he was scheduled to board Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plane for the summit, Legault released a written statement saying, "Africa has enormous potential, both for our economy and for the future of the French language. That is why I intend to support a candidacy from this continent.''

Mushikiwabo reacted to Legault's statement by tweeting, "Quebec's support for the African candidacy is highly appreciated; it is the illustration of positive solidarity in the French-speaking world!''

The Rwandan minister already enjoys the support of France and the African Union.

A spokesman for federal minister responsible for la Francophonie, Melanie Joly, said today in an email that Canada would rally around the consensus.

Canada is ready to "rally around the consensus, which is the way la Francophonie wants to go about it,'' wrote Jeremy Ghio.

Jean's spokesman, Bertin Leblanc, told The Canadian Press Tuesday there would be a reaction from Jean "no doubt calmly, tomorrow morning.'' On the weekend, he said Jean was not planning on dropping out of the race. ``I'll confirm she'll be there until the end and probably beyond,'' Leblanc said at the time.

Jean has been dogged by accusations of excessive spending during her time as head of la Francophonie after Quebecor media outlets reported she spent $500,000 renovating her rented Paris residence and as well as $20,000 on a piano.

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