Djerba, Tunisia (AFP):
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 La 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, said Sunday 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.
This year’s conference is a diplomatic boon for Tunisian President Kais Saied, whose government has faced international criticism since a sweeping power grab last year in the only democracy to have emerged from the Arab Spring uprisings.