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Another Milestone In Multilateral Ties

Cameroon will from today 13 to 16 April 2015, play host to the new Secretary General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie, Michaëlle Jean, of Canadian nationality who was elected into the post on 30 November 2014 in Dakar, Senegal at the Francophonie Summit.

Her coming to Cameroon on the invitation of the Head of State, Paul Biya, underlines the bond of friendship and understanding between Cameroon and the institution since Cameroon joined La Francophonie on 19 November 1991. The official visit to the country by Michaëlle Jean comes to reinforce already strong ties between Cameroon and La Francophonie. 

If the Secretary General’s first visit to Africa early this year was prompted by the deadly Ebola crisis, her arrival in Cameroon can be said to be the first political and diplomatic outing that marks the attachment of the institution and the person to a specific African country. Apart from cooperation activities that Cameroon and La Francophonie entertain in the political, economic and cultural domains, Cameroon has been present at most key moments of decision-making of the life of the institution.

For instance, President Paul Biya has been personally present at Francophonie Summits such as the fourth Summit in France in 1991, fifth Summit in the Island of Mauritius in 1993, sixth Summit in Benin in 1995, 10th Summit in Burkina Faso in 2004, the 12th Summit in Canada in 2008, the 13th Summit in Montreux in 2010, 14th Summit in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012, and the 15th Summit in Senegal in 2014.

In the same light, Michaëlle Jean’s visit to Cameroon is following in the footsteps of her predecessors such as Boutrous Boutros Ghali in January 2000 and Abdou Diouf in October 2005. Several other top officials of La Francophonie have equally been to the country to fine-tune various mutual agreements and diplomatic ties between Cameroon and the institution.

The various speeches made by President Paul Biya at the different Francophonie summits which he attended, dwelt on areas such as democratic progress, peace, justice and globalisation, among others, have been edifying. For example, Mr Biya pointed out in Quebec, Canada in 2008 that; “Democracy and the State of Law have witnessed visible progress within La Francophonie, but must still be perfected.”

Thus, Cameroon has in collaboration with specialised structures of La Francophonie worked on issues like the putting in place of the elections governing body, ELECAM, a programme for the financing of activities of political parties in Cameroon, the decentralisation process in the country, constant consultation between the State and the civil society as well as the introduction of the biometric voter registration recently adopted by ELECAM.

In its programme to combat poverty amongst the youth and women, La Francophonie has been involved in several projects in Cameroon and it is no coincidence that Michaëlle Jean has made it a point of duty to meet with that segment of the population during her stay in the country. Since 2009, La Francophonie has through the Special Development Programme undertaken support initiatives at the local level in Cameroon and some 40 youth have since 2011 been part of an international  volunteers scheme of La Francophonie. With Cameroon always meeting her financial obligations to the institution, La Francophonie continues to be a valuable development partner to the country through numerous development and capacity-building projects.

On a personal note, Michaëlle Jean will be coming to Cameroon to meet with President Paul Biya who has always been a valuable partner and understanding Statesman. Both leaders met in Quebec, Canada in 2008 on the sidelines of La Francophonie Summit and on other occasions when she began her bid for the post of Secretary General of the structure. Informed sources even talk of the tactful contribution of President Paul Biya to her being chosen as a consensus candidate to head the institution during the Dakar, Summit last year.

As if to appreciate the central role that Cameroon keeps playing in the evolution of La Francophonie since joining the organisation, Michaëlle Jean on 13 February 2015 appointed a Cameroonian, Prof. Jean-Louis Atangana Amougou, as the Director of Cabinet within the institution, thus making him the 3rd personality of La Francophonie. Numerous other Cameroonians hold enviable posts of responsibility in La Francophonie.

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