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Pres. Zuma Criticizes France for Inviting Military Leaders from Guinea and Niger to Summit

May 31, 2010

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa

 

May 31, 2010
Zuma criticises France

NICE (France) – SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma accused France on Monday of granting recognition to violent coups by inviting Guinea and Niger’s military leaders to a France-Africa summit.

‘We don’t want to encourage military people to overturn others and become governments, because by inviting, it means recognition, that’s how we are interpreting it in the continent,’ he told French news channel France 24. ‘We would want those people not to be recognised, because if they are recognised here almost at the same level as all other heads of state, that’s a problem that Africa has,’ he added.

Mr Zuma was responding to a question on France’s decision to invite the leaders of Guinea and Niger, the two African states most recently hit by coups, to the summit that opened on Monday in the Riviera city of Nice.

‘It does not help to promote our stand that those people must not be recognised,’ Mr Zuma said. ‘They must not be allowed to undertake coups d’etat. It is against the democratic culture that we are trying to entrench in the continent of Africa.’ France is seeking to renew its ties with Africa at the two-day gathering that will touch on global governance and Africa’s campaign to have more of say at the United Nations Security Council, the UN’s top decision-making body.

In Guinea the army took over in 2008 after the death of its long-time autocratic ruler, General Lansana Conte. It is now being ruled by an influential player in the coup, General Sekouba Konate. Niger has been under military rule since February when a junta ousted its president Mamadou Tandja, who had changed the constitution to stay in office beyond two terms. The junta suspended the constitution and promised elections.

Mr Sarkozy and Mr Zuma had lunch together ahead of the opening of the summit on Monday and ‘talked a lot about world governance,’ the French president’s office said in a briefing. Mr Sarkozy outlined proposals to extend the terms of the UN Security Council’s non-permanent members, which include African states. — AFP

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