Francois Hollande warns African leaders at Francophonie summit in Dakar

December 3, 2014 OPINION/NEWS




Sylvain Muyali

Angry, Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso left Dakar early. Several issues were discussed during the fifteenth summit of the Francophonie, held in the capital of Senegal, from 29th to 30th November 2014, but none provided more friction than the subject of leaders seeking to remain in power past the terms set by their own countries’ constitutions.

The tone was set early into the opening ceremony’s speeches by fifteen heads of state. Two icons of this great meeting, French President Francois Hollande and the outgoing Secretary General of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF), Abdou Diouf returned more than once in their statements on the bare constitutions and importance not to stay in power forever. After three terms at the helm of the OIF as General Secretary, Senegalese Abdou Diouf has refused to run for office again.

The heads of state who supported the constitutional limit for number of terms are Congolese Presidents Denis Sassou Nguesso (Brazzaville) and his counterpart Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa, Beninese Yayi Boni (who has already indicated that he would leave office at the end of its mandate), Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, neighbour of Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, represented at the summit by its Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo and President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo.

However, the Dakar summit was not restricited to the ‘question of the hour’ concerning the aforementioned heads of state, as terrorism, local conflicts, climate change, Ebola and many other important topics were also on the table for discussion. In his farewell speech the outgoing Secretary General of the OIF, Abdou Diouf, branded immobility, selfishness and a ‘defense of special interest ‘ that characterise many African Heads of State.

French President Francois Hollande did not change his mind concerning African heads of state that try desperately to stay in power by changing the constitution, stating “they will have the people behind their backs.” Burkina Faso served as an example, the nation’s new President Michel Kafando attending the summit in Dakar also.

Congolese Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda, who also participated in the Conference of the Francophonie, was met by Senegalese President Macky Sall, Tshibanda stating that “the DRC was proud to pass the torch to Senegal.” Following the minister’s arrival, President Joseph Kabila and Olive Lembe Mom arrived in Dakar shortly after.

It was Denis Sassou Nguesso however who left the summit early. Before the election of the new Secretary General of the OIF, French President Francois Hollande said that the organisation does not support a candidate whose country engages in the logic of constitutional revision purely to maintain power of the President’s term. But Henry Lopes, who had personally campaigned for his election as the OIF, was among the favourites.

Thus, after the vote, Canada’s Michaëlle Jean was elected as new Secretary General. This did not please Denis Sassou Nguesso who took his plane even before the summit’s close, a way for him to express his dissatisfaction.




sylvain muyali

Sylvain Muyali

Sylvain Muyali is a Journalist, Photographer and Filmmaker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has reported previously for the Associated Press and his words and images can also be found at ‘Vivons Positivement


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