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French-speaking countries' Summit deadlocked over choice of its next chief

media The Abdou Diouf international conference Center in Djiamnadjio near Dakar, Senegal RFI

The 15th Summit of the Organization of French-speaking countries is into its second and final day this Sunday amid reports of deep divergences over who should become the successor of retiring Senegalese national Abdou Diouf. Canada’s former Governor Michaëlle Jean is among the five running candidates.

Diplomat sources here in Dakar say a series of informal meeting during and after last night’s state banquet offered by President Macky Sall failed to produce any progress.

Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso bluntly informed his counterparts he wasn’t backing down on his support for Henri Lopès, Brazzaville’s long serving ambassador to France, UNESCO and the Francophonie (French-speaking countries).

View of the Abdou Diouf international conference Center in Djiamnadjio RFI

Reports say he has enlisted the support of several Central African leaders in his campaign for a rotating presidency of the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF), the top job having been held by a West African for two consecutive terms. Burundi has also reiterated its support for its former military leader Pierre Buyoya, urged on by a number of hiding West African friends.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbazogo whose candidate has failed to win any substantial support is also reported to be positioning himself as a spoiler while Chadian leader Idris Deby Igno flew back home last night to avoid the embarrassing experience of having to choose someone among his many friends.

French President François Hollande denied any intention to field a candidate in the race in an interview with RFI on Thursday evening.

Abdou Diouf has completely ruled out any extension of his term, fuelling speculation that a new compromise candidate may have to be brought in to save the organization from a conflict with long-standing consequences on the Organization’s unity.

The stand off over the choice of the Francophonie’s new point man is also expected to delay the closing of the Dakar Summit originally set for midday this Sunday.

The 35 heads of State and government already have a full basket of resolutions to hammer out on issues such as blueprints for youth and women’s empowerment, good governance in the wake of the Burkinabé African Spring that has discredited the Francophonie’s long romance with veteran leaders, an Ebola initiative and Francophonie’s response to the growing threat of Islamist-sponsored terrorism facing its West African member nations.

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