FRANCOPHONE CLUB COUNTS ON BOUTROS-GHALI FOR CLOUT

FRANCOPHONE CLUB COUNTS ON BOUTROS-GHALI FOR CLOUT

HANOI, NOV 12 (REUTERS) – FORMER UNITED NATIONS CHIEF BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI LOOKED SET ON WEDNESDAY TO BECOME FIRST SECRETARY GENERAL OF LA FRANCOPHONIE AT THE SEVENTH SUMMIT OF THE 49-STATE ASSOCIATION IN HANOI LATER THIS WEEK.
LUONG VAN LY, VICE-CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE FOR SUMMIT PREPARATIONS, TOLD A NEWS CONFERENCE THAT THE EX-DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF EGYPT WAS THE ONLY CANDIDATE LEFT IN THE RACE.
THE ONLY OTHER SERIOUS CONTENDER — FORMER BENIN HEAD OF STATE EMILE DERLIN ZINSOU — DECIDED NOT TO RUN FOR REASONS WHICH A SOURCE CLOSE TO THE AFRICAN STATE’S PRESIDENCY SAID WERE PERSONAL.
DIPLOMATS SAID BOUTROS-GHALI HAS THE CLOUT THAT THE HUGELY DIVERSE GROUP NEEDS FOR GREATER POLITICAL, DIPLOMATIC AND ECONOMIC CLOUT ON THE WORLD STAGE.
HE SERVED FOR FIVE YEARS AS SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND COMMANDS RESPECT ACROSS THE GLOBE. ALTHOUGH HIS NATIVE LANGUAGE IS ARABIC, HE ALSO SPEAKS FRENCH FLUENTLY AND REPRESENTS A DEVELOPING COUNTRY, AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION IN AN ASSOCIATION OF MOSTLY AFRICAN STATES.
BOUTROS-GHALI HAS SAID HE IS READY TO ACCEPT THE NEW POST, WHICH IS MODELLED ON THAT OF THE COMMONWEALTH’S SECRETARY-GENERAL AND DESIGNED TO TAKE THE CLUB OF "NATIONS WHICH HAVE FRENCH IN COMMON" BEYOND ITS TRADITIONAL FOCUS ON LANGUAGE AND CULTURE.
HE SAID HIS AIM WAS "TO TRANSFORM THE EMOTIONAL REALITY OF A FRANCOPHONE COMMUNITY INTO A POLITICAL PROJECT…AN IMPORTANT INSTRUMENT TO HELP DEMOCRATISE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS."
FRANCE, THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND LA FRANCOPHONIE, HAS BEEN A LEADING BOUTROS-GHALI SUPPORTER.
IT SEES HIS APPOINTMENT AS KEY TO BOOSTING THE GROUP’S INTERNATIONAL STANDING AND GIVING FRANCOPHONE NATIONS A LOUDER VOICE IN A WORLD DOMINATED BY THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND ANGLO-SAXON BUSINESS PRACTICES, DIPLOMACY AND THINKING.
"THIS IMPORTANT PERSON WILL BRING A VIBRANT NEW VOICE AND FACE TO OUR MOVEMENT. THE CREDIBILITY OF THIS PERSON WILL HELP THE… COMMUNITY PLAY A SIGNIFICANT ROLE ON THE WORLD STAGE," FRENCH PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC SAID IN THE VIETNAM INVESTMENT REVIEW.
CHIRAC WAS ONE OF BOUTROS-GHALI’S STAUNCHEST ALLIES IN HIS FIGHT LAST YEAR TO SECURE A SECOND TERM AT THE UNITED NATIONS.
BUT HE AND OTHER BOUTROS-GHALI SUPPORTERS LOST OUT BECAUSE THE UNITED STATES VETOED ANOTHER TERM FOR THE EGYPTIAN, SAYING THE WORLD BODY NEEDED A MORE REFORM-MINDED LEADER.
NOT ALL THE FRANCOPHONE NATIONS, THOUGH, WERE AS HAPPY AS PARIS WITH THE PROSPECT OF BOUTROS-GHALI AS LEADER OF THEIR CONSENSUS-DRIVEN GROUP.
SOURCES AT A MINISTERIAL MEETING AHEAD OF THE NOVEMBER 14-16 SUMMIT SAID SOME AFRICAN STATES WANTED HIM TO BE GIVEN A TENURE OF TWO YEARS INSTEAD OF FOUR.
LUONG VAN LY TOLD THE NEWS CONFERENCE THAT THE QUESTION HAD COME UP, BUT SAID A DECISION WOULD BE LEFT TO HEADS OF STATE.
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