Political tensions at Francophonie summit forefront

Ouagadougou- Burkina Faso (PANA) -- With 15 countries in conflict or post conflict phases in the Francophone states, which also are home to the world's least developed nations, the area is once again under threat of devoting the bulk of its tenth summit discussing social-political tensions at the expense of efficient and sustainable development schemes and programmes.
The armed conflict plaguing Cote d'Ivoire since 19 September 2002 will be among the major concerns of the heads of states and governments in countries sharing French as an official language.
Ivorian President Laurent Gbabgo, who is yet to secure an invitation to the summit, has got the the attention of the Standing Francophone Committee and the 21st ministerial meeting.
In fact, a resolution adopted by both organs urged heads of states to engage the various parties in Cote d'Ivoire to implement the Linas Marcoussis and Accra accords.
In the Great Lakes region, where a number of states are now in democratic transition, the arrival of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Joseph Kabila aroused debates in certain diplomatic quarters where many have expressed hope that the Francophonie will show more commitment in helping the region out of a decade of turbulence.
Furthermore, elections in the Central African Republic and those slated in Haiti are a source of concern for the Francophonie, with certain diplomats commending the decision by Haiti's Prime Minister Jean Latortue to run for the country's presidential poll.
But the great debate that will mark the summit will be, no doubt, the crisis in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.
Though the country is not a member of the Francophonie, the Francophonie leaders are highly concerned with the situation in Sudan as they unveiled plans to use all their muscle to restore peace and stability in a country convulsed for about 25 years by an ethnic/religious crisis in the south and an armed conflict that has made some 800,000 refugees in the west.
Sudanese President Omar El-Bechir and incumbent African Union (AU) Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo, who will attend the Ouagadougou summit, intend to give an assessment of the situation, with AU commission chairman Alpha Oumar Konare slated to make an appeal for enhanced Francophone solidarity to pull the continent out of impasse.
In a statement Tuesday at the Standing Francophonie Council, Equatorial Guinea called on the Francophone body to adopt "a clear and well defined" resolution condemning mercenary activities in line with the Declaration of Bamako (Mali).
Alleging a coup plot to overthrow its regime, Malabo urged the Francophone area countries to show unfailing solidarity by condemning the nations that "host, train and sponsor mercenary activities.
" On his part, the Mauritania ambassador to Paris, Sid'El Ould Nagi, said that his country would not take part in the summit at the state level in Ouagadougou as long the Burkinabe authorities failed to admit their alleged involvement and support of its opponents in plots to destabilise his country's republican institutions.
Notwithstanding the hopes of Burkinabe authorities that the Ouagadougou meeting will be the turning point for a Francophonie tuned on development issues, the quest for socio-political stability continues to haunt the member countries and weigh on the agendas of the world body's summits.

26 november 2004 12:41:00




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