Battle on to succeed Boutros Ghali at Francophonie summit

Beirut- Lebanon (PANA) -- Tough lobbying is under way at the biannual International Francophonie Organisation (OIF) summit in Beirut, where a new secretary general, to succeed Boutros Boutros Ghali of Egypt, will be named before the three-day event ends Sunday.
The contenders for the post are former Congolese premier Henry Lopes, who is currently his country's ambassador to France, and former Senegalese President Abdou Diouf.
Central African states, led by Gabon, are supporting Lopes's candidacy.
Gabonese President Omar Bongo, when asked if he still supported Lopes's candidacy, said the Congolese applied for the post long before Diouf did in 2001.
The 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States forced the postponement of the summit till now.
In the meantime, the former Senegalese president expressed interest in the post, Bongo explained, in justifying his continued support for Lopes.
He added that the Congolese candidate would have succeeded without difficulty if the summit had been held in October 2001 as planned.
French President Jacques Chirac has stated that France supported Diouf's candidature.
Belgium, which initially favoured Lopes, is also now supporting the former Senegalese leader.
Herve Hasquin, Minister-President of the Walloon-Brussels French Community, one of the federated entities of the Belgian Kingdom, intimated that if it came to a vote, Diouf would beat Lopes by a wide margin.
He explained that the Congolese candidate, though qualified, was at a disadvantage because he was backed by countries which have not yet made progress in practising democracy while Senegal was, to a large extent, engaged in democratic practices.
Informed sources said that there has been a lot of pressure on Lopes to withdraw his candidature so that Diouf will be selected by consensus.
Lopes, however, told PANA in Beirut that he was optimistic of his chances of winning the post.

19 أكتوبر 2002 11:24:00

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