Leaders attending the Franco-African summit meeting in Rwanda are at odds over what priority should be given to the discussions.
Leaders attending the Franco-African summit meeting in Rwanda are at odds over what priority should be given to the discussions. The summit opened in Rwanda's capital on Monday (21 May) and French officials say President Valery Giscard d'Estaing wants it to focus on economic matters. However, Senegal's President Leopold Sedar Senghor said he wants a full debate on security problems. He won the support of President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, who said he favoured the creation of a pan-African security force.
SYNOPSIS: President Mobutu was one of the first African leaders to arrive for the summit. He was greeted at the airport by his host, Major-General Juvenal Habyurimana.
The ceremonies took on a refreshingly different style when tribal dancers performed traditional Rwanda dances for the two Presidents.
But behind the joviality and the arch proclaiming Franco-African friendship, the conference at Kigali's Cultural Centre, failed to hide the controversies.
France has cut off all economic aid to the Central African Empire until it gets a satisfactory explanation about alleged killings of students there last month. Amnesty International alleged that between fifty and a hundred children protesting against compulsory school uniforms had died or been killed in the capital Bangui. Emperor Bokassa denied these allegations and challenged Amnesty International to provide proof. France has kept its former colony's economy afloat with aid worth twenty million francs (four million dollars) a year.
In his welcoming speech, President Habyurimana outlined the summit's agenda. He said the conference would concentrate on economic issues such as inflation. He complied with President Giscard's wishes who, despite pressure from Senegalese President Senghor for open discussions on African security, wants defence questions to be left to secret meetings between the summit leaders.
But the controversies did not end there. The Chad delegation left the summit in protest over claims made by some of the twenty-two other nations that the Chad Government did not represent all factions in the conflict its formation ended last month. The summit ends on Wednesday (23 May).