Francophonie Day: Mushikiwabo roots for solidarity to tackle global challenges

The Secretary-General of International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) has said that for the French-speaking community to be more impactful in the future, it has to reinforce the achievement of shared prosperity through solidarity and respect among its members.

Louise Mushikiwabo made the observation through a video message as La Francophonie marked its 50th anniversary on Friday, March 20.

The celebration came at the time when the world is facing the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which had infected 209,839 people and caused 8778 deaths as of March 19, according to a situation report by the World Health Organization.

“Despite the difficult situation in which the world is currently plunged, today we are celebrating 50 years of La Francophonie. This crisis reminds us of the importance of a world guided by solidarity and mutual support,” Mushikiwabo wrote on her twitter handle.

The former Rwandan foreign minister said that OIF should also achieve shared prosperity compatible with sustainable development respectful of the planet.

The flag of La Francophonie flying alongside the Rwandan flag at the City Hall on Friday. Photo: Craish Bahizi.

“In order to resolutely set the Organisation in the future, cooperation between countries must be refocused on major global strategic challenges, quality education for all, the end of the digital divide,” she observed.

She said that there is a need to strive together for the values that embody the organisation which include respect of the rule of law, democracy, human rights, and equality between women and men.

“La Francophonie of the future is therefore a certain return to the source, the reinforcement around the founding priorities and the adaptation to the challenges of the current world that will allow us to be more relevant and more effective, and therefore to go further and to think big,” she said.

“We want an organisation characterised by good governance and which contributes to the right balance between all member states.

Tackling coronavirus

About the virus, she said that, according to an assessment made on March 16, 2020, 69 of the 88 member states and governments of the OIF are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, or more than 60% of members of the bloc.

In this space, 22,688 people were infected and 252 people died as a result of the virus.

Unfortunately, she said, the death toll was expected to increase over the next few weeks, adding that economic consequences will be dire.

“In this exceptional and difficult period, my thoughts go first to all of you who are facing this epidemic. I urge you to protect yourself and your loved ones, especially the most vulnerable, by following the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO),” she advised.

On Friday, Rwanda joined the rest of the 88-state body to celebrate its anniversary, despite the fact that pre-planned celebrations were called off as part of the broad measures to contain the virus.

“Rwanda joins 300 million Francophones worldwide to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the OIF,” wrote Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta in a tweet.

He added: “In this difficult situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a reminder to all of the solidarity necessary for the preservation of our common future, especially in our French-speaking communities. Together we will win,” he said.