Beninese dailies comment on Diouf's election as OIF boss

Cotonou- Benin (PANA) -- Former Senegalese President Abdou Diouf's election to head the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF) stole the limelight among newspapers in Benin this week.
Diouf got elected last Sunday in Beirut, Lebanon following the withdrawal of the other aspirant, Congo's Henri Lopes.
"Francophonie: Diouf, new OIF secretary-general," read a banner headline of the privately-owned newspaper, Le Progres, while the state-run daily, La Nation, came out with a front page story titled "Election of OIF Secretary General: The Senegalese Lesson.
" Diouf was elected at the end of the 18-20 October OIF summit attended by leaders from 56 French-speaking African countries and other continents.
The former Senegalese replaced the former Egyptian diplomat Boutros Boutros-Ghali, after the withdrawal of Congo-Brazzaville's ambassador to France Paris, Henri Lopes.
In its editorial of Tuesday titled "Outright Truth," the private newspaper Fraternite described Diouf's election as a "Francophone Scandal.
" "By imposing the former Senegalese head of State as OIF's secretary general, France has just shown the pretentious African countries that backed the candidacy of Congo-Brazzaville's ambassador that might is right," the paper noted.
The bulk of the Francophone African states were dreaming of the election of Congo's Henri Lopes, a politician and a man of culture who had been in the bosom of the Francoponie institution for ages," the paper recalled.
According to Fraternite, the African states that backed the candidate from the central African region, should now realise that the Francophonie is not actually their "thing" and that their views do not count when it comes to choosing the organisation's secretary general.
"We understand now, following what happened in Beirut, that only France pulls the strings in this Francophonie affair," the paper added.
Le Progres, in an article titled "9th Francophonie Summit: Shame on African Heads of State," affirmed that the election of Abdou Diouf instead of Lopes is another proof that the West still leads Africa.
"African Heads of State are only puppets of the colonial power," the paper asserted, recalling that the metropolis had also imposed Boutros-Ghali of Egypt although he comes from a country where French is not accepted as a language.
This was why Lopes was abandoned by the 9th Francophonie summit although his candidacy enjoyed the backing of African leaders since the Hanoi OIF summit.
"The African leaders have brought sufficient disgrace to Africa, for they were not given the freedom to vote in Lebanon," remarked the paper, adding that their voting conscience was slanted.
On its part, the state-owned daily, La Nation, wrote in its Tuesday editorial titled "Back-hander" saw Diouf's election as a victory for Senegal's diplomacy.
"People had been expecting Henri Lopes for months.
But it is the Senegalese Abdou Diouf who braced the tape first ahead of the Congolese diplomat and writer, renowned for his talents in terms of culture," the daily said, adding that " in Beirut as was the case in the past, the Francophonie has once again decided to become politicised.
" According to La Nation, African leaders and Benin in particular need to emulate President Abdoulaye Wade's active strategy in promoting the candidacy of his former arch-rival, whom he succeeded as Senegal's head of state.
"The lesson taught by the country of Teranga (hospitality) should be retained: An incumbent president has campaigned to ensure the election of his former political rival as head of an international organisation," the paper said.
Another newspaper, Le Matinal, said that President Wade's strategy was a real symbol for the whole African continent.
"In reality, Senegalese always prove that they master the democratic game, better than their counterparts in Benin.
" "In 2000, Abdou Diouf sportingly conceded his defeat and congratulated his successor Abdoulaye Wade who was a serious troublemaker all along his 19 years in power.
Diouf had even jailedt Wade on two or three occasions during his tenure," Le Matinal recalled.
And yet, Wade "backed Diouf's OIF bid," it added.
"This is just a lesson of humility and patriotism that Beninese people should assimilate," the paper pointed out.
In a critical tone, the paper noted that political opponents in Benin have since the 1990s looked at each other as enemies rather than political adversaries, which is a sign of political immaturity.
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25 october 2002 20:59:00




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