World

‘An ardent defender of women’: Justin Trudeau heaps praise on Michaelle Jean at Armenia Francophonie summit

YEREVAN, Armenia — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute
to Michaelle Jean in his speech at the opening of the summit of
la Francophonie on Thursday in Armenia, just hours before the
former governor general finds out whether she’ll be able to
continue on as secretary general.

Jean, who has been in the top job at the organization of
French-speaking nations since 2014, is facing an uphill climb
as she seeks a second term.

In front of the heads of state and government, Trudeau praised
the “remarkable work” done by the former governor general, who
focused on women, youth and human rights while in the post.

“Michaelle affirmed herself as an ardent defender of women,
notably by asserting their right to education and fighting for
their emancipation,” Trudeau told dignitaries, lauding her
dedication and contagious energy.

After months of supporting her, the Canadian and Quebec
governments announced earlier this week that they would rally
around “consensus” candidate, Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister
Louise Mushikiwabo. Mushikiwabo also has the support of French
President Emmanuel Macron and several African Union countries.

Michaelle affirmed herself as an ardent defender of women,
notably by asserting their right to education and fighting
for their emancipation

Traditionally, the selection of a secretary general is by
agreement, not through a vote.

But, Jean has refused to back down despite her chances of
securing another term being described as slim.

Her spokesman, Bertin Leblanc, has said consensus must be
reached by the heads of state and governments behind closed
doors.

French
President Emmanuel Macron holds a stamp with a portrait of French
singer Charles Aznavour during the opening ceremony of the
Francophonie Summit 2018 in Yerevan, Armenia, Thursday, Oct. 11,
2018.
Davit Hakobyan/PAN Photo via AP

According to Radio France International, the Haitian-born Jean,
a former journalist, hopes to have the support of up to 18
delegations going into Friday’s vote. The French public radio
service based the numbers on a final tally done in Yerevan on
Tuesday.

Despite not backing her, Macron also paid homage to Jean’s
fight for women’s rights.

“La Francophonie must be the space that fights for the rights
of women, and I want to salute the work that was done by
Michaelle Jean, to whom I pay tribute, who strongly mobilized
in this fight,” Macron said near the end of his opening
remarks.

“La Francophonie must be feminist, and you were right, madame
secretary general, not to give up in this fight.”

Trudeau also paid tribute to the late Charles Aznavour, whose
music was playing throughout the Karen Demirchyan complex in
Yerevan, where the event is taking place.

The French-Armenian singer passed away on Oct. 1 and his
contribution to the French language and culture was highlighted
by both Trudeau and Macron.

“When I arrived in Armenia, I immediately thought of a great
man I loved so much, a great lover of the French language who
died last week, the incomparable Charles Aznavour,” Trudeau
said.

“In the days following his death, francophones and francophiles
of the world united in mourning through his work. This momentum
of solidarity was perhaps the greatest tribute that could have
been made to him.”

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