Francophonie summit should be held in democratic country: Harper
Published Sunday, October 14, 2012 7:56AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 14, 2012 7:14PM EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said while he’s glad he attended the summit of French speaking nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he hopes the next meeting is held in a democratic country.
The Canadian delegation wrapped up its duties at this weekend’s international gathering of la Francophonie on Sunday.
"I hope that in the future, la Francophonie and other major organizations will decide to hold a summit only in countries with democratic standards," Harper told reporters at the conference.
The African country has been widely criticized for its human rights abuses and for allowing widespread sexual violence against women.
President Joseph Kabila returned to power last year amid allegations of electoral fraud, which Harper described as "completely unacceptable."
“I don’t think there is any misunderstanding by any official here or around the world through the elections and up to this summit on Canada’s feelings about the situation here,” Harper said. “The complete unacceptability of the failures of the electoral process and the abuse of human rights that are taking place in this country.”
Harper has already threatened to skip the upcoming Commonwealth conference in Sri Lanka unless that country improves its human rights record.
However, the prime minister did say the conference provided an opportunity to voice the government’s concern regarding the country’s human rights records.
“I came here with some reluctance,” he said. “But I think it was worthwhile because it did give us the opportunity to meet with the people who are trying to make a real change here.”
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois also attended the conference and told reporters she wasn't necessarily opposed to holding future summits in countries with spotty human rights records.
She said it could be a way for foreign leaders to pressure the country for change.
"When we say these things in their own country, it's more embarrassing, I think, than when you do it from away," Marois said.
While the Canadian politicians did not meet with the Congolese president, both Harper and Marois attended separate meetings with the country’s Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo.
With a report from CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian and files from The Associated Press