The Francophonie summit, which was to be held in Djerba in November, was officially postponed by one year on Wednesday, October 13. At a meeting of the Permanent Council of the International Organization of la Francophonie the day before, representatives of the 88 member and associate states had already agreed to postpone the deadline until the fall of 2022. The decision was motivated in large part by the political situation in Tunisia, but countries like Canada pushed for the postponement.
The 18th Francophonie summit, originally scheduled to take place on the island of Djerba in late November, has been postponed for a year, « to allow Tunisia to organize this important event in the best possible conditions, » according to statements from the International Organization of La Francophonie and the Tunisian Foreign Ministry.
« Discussions have led to a consensus of representatives of member states on Tunisia, host of this summit, and the postponement of the date of its convening on the island of Djerba to 2022 to ensure broad participation at the highest level and not have to hold it at a distance, « said a statement from the Tunisian ministry. The decision must be formally adopted at a Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie.
Canada pushed, France remained neutral, but…
Since power hardened in Tunis and President Kais Said assumed full powers, organizing a Francophonie summit in Djerba has put OIF member states in a bind. It seems that Canada was the most active country to ask for a postponement, especially since Ottawa and the province of Quebec are questioning the very management of the International Organization of the Francophonie.
Officially, France remained neutral: « We were in favor of any solution agreed between the IOF and Tunisia, » said a source at the Elysée. But Paris was increasingly uncomfortable with the Tunisian political hardening, openly denounced by lawyers and human rights activists in Tunisia and France, after a new Africa-France summit in Montpellier, which brought together African civil society to avoid Emmanuel Macron to appear with some heads of state undemocratic.
Since Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed assumed full powers a little over two months ago, before suspending the Parliament and then certain chapters of the Constitution last month, holding the Francophonie summit in the country has become increasingly problematic.
Tunisia wanted to hold it
It was difficult to organize a consensual and peaceful summit while thousands of people were still demonstrating against what they called a « coup d’état. Former President Moncef Marzouki had even personally called for a boycott of the summit. Several member countries of the OIF have expressed their discomfort to the secretary general of the organization.
Saturday, Louise Mushikiwabo had moved to Tunisia to hear President Kaïs Saïed repeat its willingness to host the summit and present the preparations underway. Objective: avoid a humiliating cancellation. The Tunisian organizers still ensured that about twenty states had confirmed their arrival. Except that there was neither a precise place nor a program for this summit scheduled for November 20 and 21.
The tone was reassuring, but the Tunisian head of state had dropped a small phrase. Kaïs Saïed mentioned those who « went to Paris and tried to scupper the Francophonie summit. Was he talking about political opponents? Foreign partners?
A week before, he had met with his French counterpart. Emmanuel Macron had then, according to the Élysée press release, recalled his attachment to dialogue and mentioned « the institutional calendar expected by the international community. This formulation was vague enough to refer to the timetable for internal political reforms. But also, after all, to an international summit such as that of the OIF.