Liberia: Canadian PM Expected Today

The NEWS Monrovia
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to visit Liberia on Thursday, November 24, 2016, his first visit to West Africa.

Details of the visit remain scanty, but international wires say the Canadian PM will make a stop in Monrovia, Liberia before continuing with his visit to Antananarivo, Madagascar.

The Canadian Liberal government plans to use the trip to highlight a promise of renewed engagement with Africa on international development assistance. With 31 of the members of la Francophone hailing from the African continent, including several with associate and observer status, the summit offers an ideal setting for such talks.

Prime Minister Trudeau plans to discuss LGBTQ rights in a speech later this week at the summit of la Francophone, where his audience will include countries that still discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or forbid homosexuality outright.

The prime minister will raise the subject during Saturday’s opening ceremony in Antananarivo, the capital city of the island nation Madagascar, which is hosting this weekend’s summit of the International Organization of la Francophone.

The global group of 80 governments and states from mainly French-speaking nations comprises many countries, including nearly a dozen in Africa, where sexual acts between same-sex couples are illegal.

In the host country of Madagascar, homosexuality is frowned upon or otherwise not tolerated.

The speech by Trudeau, who is leading the Canadian delegation, will also address the global fight against climate change and the empowerment of women and girls – a key international development priority for the Liberal government.

As part of that focus on gender equality, Canada – the second-largest contributor to la Francophone – is also putting forward a joint resolution with Benin on early and forced marriage.

« Forced marriage is a glaring example to work on for me, because it is an important element that limits the development of girls’ potential, » said International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, who is also attending the summit.

Western countries always need to avoid being seen as lecturing the developing world when it comes to social issues, said Pablo Idahosa, a professor of development and African studies at York University in Toronto.

When asked whether Trudeau plans to raise the issue with Johnson Sirleaf, one government official would only say that the prime minister raises human rights issues everywhere he goes.

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