December 21, 2011 by staff
Francophonie Congo, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is still backing plans to hold the 2012 summit of Francophonie nations in the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo, despite widespread electoral fraud in its recent presidential election and a crackdown on political dissidents.
This fall, Harper said he would boycott the 2013 meeting of Commonwealth leaders in Sri Lanka if the government there did not pursue an investigation of human rights abuses inflicted on civilians at the end of that country’s civil war.
But the Conservative government is taking a different approach with the Democratic Republic of Congo, suggesting the summit next October will be a chance to engage with the country. The Liberal Party of Canada also says it’s too early to decide to pull out of the summit.
Bernard Valcourt, the minister of state for the Francophonie, returned earlier this month from meetings in Paris with his international counterparts including Congolese minister Raymond Tshibanda.
“The Minister briefed me on the next Francophonie Summit in Kinshasa and told me that preparations for the summit were going well,” Valcourt said in an email to The Canadian Press.
“During this meeting I made sure to mention that the next Francophonie summit in Kinshasa will be an ideal opportunity to strengthen dialogue with Congolese authorities about their efforts to ensure political stability and security in their country.”
The Prime Minister’s Office says it’s still monitoring the situation and will determine Harper’s attendance at a later date. The last francophonie summit, scheduled for Madagascar in October 2010, was moved to Montreux, Switzerland because of civil conflict. The organization, largely funded by France, Canada and Belgium, has been criticized in the past for not taking a stronger stand against human rights abusers within its diverse membership.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is facing a tense situation where two men have declared themselves to be president — incumbent Joseph Kabila and opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi.
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