On Thursday, President Emmanuel Macron said the era of French intervention in Africa was “well over” and launched a four-country tour of the continent to renew frayed ties.
Anti-French sentiment is growing in some former African colonies as Russian and Chinese influence grows in the region and the continent becomes a new diplomatic battlefield.
Macron said France did not want to return to its past policies of interfering in Africa ahead of the first leg of his visit to an environment summit in Gabon.
Addressing the French community in Libreville, the capital, Macron referred to France’s post-colonization strategy of supporting authoritarian leaders and defending its interests, calling it the “era of Francafric. is over,” he said.
“When I read, hear, or see things that people think have intentions that France doesn’t have, I sometimes get the feeling that they haven’t changed their minds as much as we have,” he added.
“Francafric” is a favorite target of Pan-Africanists who say France backed former colonial dictators in exchange for access to resources and military bases after the decolonization wave of 1960.
Macron and his predecessors, especially François Hollande, have previously declared that this policy is over and that France will not interfere in sovereignty issues.
– Military Mods –
President Macron said on Monday that French military presence in Africa would be “significantly reduced” in the coming months, with more emphasis on training and equipping allied forces.
France withdrew troops from former colonies of Mali, Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic last year.
The withdrawal from Mali and Burkina Faso was boosted by a wave of local hostilities, with soldiers helping the Sahel to fight a long-running jihadist insurgency.
In Thursday’s remarks, President Macron claimed the planned restructuring would be “neither a withdrawal nor a secession” and defined it as adapting to the needs of its partners.
These areas of cooperation include combating maritime piracy, illegal gold mining and environmental crime related to regional drug trafficking fueled by “terrorist movements” in the Lake Chad region, he said. Stated.
More than 3,000 French soldiers are deployed in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Gabon and Djibouti, according to official statistics.
The proposed modifications concern the first three bases, but not Djibouti, which faces the Indian Ocean.
Another 3,000 troops are in the Sahel region of West Africa, including Niger and Chad.
～Forest Conservation Drive～
Macron will land in Libreville on Wednesday before heading to Angola, Congo-Brazzaville and neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
His comments came ahead of heads of state scheduled to attend the One Forest Summit in Libreville, which will focus on protecting rainforests that play a vital role in the global climate system. .
The vast Congo Basin forests are the second largest carbon sink on earth, after the Amazon.
It is also home to enormous biodiversity, including forest elephants and gorillas, and bears traces of early human settlement.
However, they face threats such as poaching, deforestation for the oil, palm and rubber industries, illegal logging and mineral exploitation.
President Macron toured the La Ponda Walker Arboretum, a protected coastal area north of Libreville, with Gabon’s Environment Minister Lee White, to discuss the challenges of mobilizing international funds.
“We talk about billions all the time at the summit, but people barely see it on the ground because the system is imperfect,” he said.
The other president scheduled to attend the summit is the host Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon. Dennis Sass Nugesso of Congo-Brazzaville. Fostin Archangel Tuadera in Central African Republic. Mahamat Idriss Debbie Itono from Chad. Teodoro Obiang Nugema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea.
The meeting began on Wednesday with an exchange of views among ministers, civil society representatives and experts.
President Macron will travel to the former Portuguese colony of Angola on Friday, where he will sign an agreement to develop the agricultural sector as part of efforts to strengthen ties between France and English-speaking and Portuguese-speaking Africa. is.
He then makes a stop in another former French colony, the Republic of the Congo. The country has been ruled by Sassou Nugesso for almost 40 years in total, and is also home to the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/macron-says-era-of-french-interference-in-africa-is-over/news-story/044dedfa8940aeaccc0c6f47137a24fe Macron: Era of French intervention in Africa is ‘over’