Contrary to what the Congolese government announced on Monday evening, the Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), Louise Mushikiwabo of Rwanda, will not be in Kinshasa for the Jeux de la Francophonie, her spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
Relations between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda are atrocious, with Kinshasa accusing Kigali of supporting the M23 rebellion, which has occupied vast swathes of territory in eastern DRC since last year.
Despite this, at a press briefing in Kinshasa on Monday, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya, Interior Minister Peter Kazadi and the head of the Games' national organizing committee, Isidore Kwandja, gave assurances that Ms. Mushikiwabo would be present at the opening ceremony on Friday.
As "co-organizer", it "goes without saying" that she will be there. She will be "welcome" in Kinshasa, the three officials had declared, believing that Mme Mushikiwabo did not need to be invited to come.
"No, she won't be there", Oria Vande Weghe, spokeswoman for the Secretary General, told AFP on Tuesday, adding that she would be represented in Kinshasa by OIF administrator Caroline St-Hilaire.
According to the spokeswoman, the DRC had announced to the Permanent Council of La Francophonie on June 21 that a formal invitation would be sent to Ms. Mushikiwabo by the Congolese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
However, this invitation was never received, Oria Vande Weghe pointed out. "Unfortunately, this is confusing and has prompted the Secretary General to reconsider her trip," she added.
The most important thing for her," said the spokeswoman, "is that the Games, an event eagerly awaited by French-speaking youth, run smoothly.
From July 28 to August 6, the 9th Jeux de la Francophonie will bring together some 3,000 young athletes and artists from some thirty countries.