Discord within network promoting French culture around the world

By Fabien Cazeaux

The Alliance Française was set up more than 130 years ago to promote French language and culture and is one of France's flagship ambassadors overseas. But today this lofty cultural organisation is embroiled in conflict with a number of senior executives around the world rising up against their boss in Paris, Jérôme Clément. They say he is authoritarian, lacks vision and that under him management is “amateurish”. He says parts of the network are still stuck in the 19th century and insists he has the government's full backing for his planned changes. Fabien Cazeaux reports.

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It is a dispute which is causing some turbulence in an institution which is not used to controversies and the settling of internal scores. The Alliance Française network, which has been a key player in promoting French culture and language abroad for more than 130 years, and which reports directly to the French Foreign Ministry, is going through the most acute crisis in its long history.