AU leaders back Rwanda to head 'Francophonie' group

African Union leaders have backed Rwanda's candidacy to head the International Organisation of La Francophonie, the world association of French-speaking nations, diplomatic sources said on Monday.

"The African Union asked all of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) member states to support Rwanda's candidacy," a diplomatic source told AFP.

Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo, 57, launched a campaign last month to become the next leader of the French-speaking equivalent of the Commonwealth, despite her country's decision to prioritise English as an official language a decade ago.

"A decision of collective support" for her candidacy was made at an African Union summit in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, according to another Francophonie member state's foreign minister.

The OIF comprises 84 states and observers. Its current secretary-general is Michaelle Jean, 60, a Haitian-born Canadian, whose term expires in mid-October. Ottawa is backing her for a second term.

Education and government business education in Rwanda is conducted in English, which was made an official language in 2008, a year before it joined the British Commonwealth organisation, but French is still spoken.

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