Macron embarks on African go to to ‘renew relationship’ with continent

President Emmanuel Macron on Monday begins a three-nation tour of western African states within the first journey to Africa of his new time period as he seeks to reboot France’s post-colonial relationship with the continent.

Macron will start his July 25-28 tour, additionally the primary enterprise outdoors Europe of his new mandate, with a go to to Cameroon, earlier than transferring on to Benin after which ending the journey in Guinea-Bissau.

High of the agenda within the talks will probably be meals provide points, with African nations fearing shortages particularly of grain as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However safety will even loom massive as France prepares to finish its pullout from Mali this 12 months, with all international locations within the area in search of to move off fears of Islamist insurgencies.

The journey to 3 international locations which hardly ever characteristic on the itinerary of worldwide leaders comes with Macron, who gained a brand new time period in April, pledging to maintain up his bid for a brand new relationship between France and Africa.

France has additionally adopted with concern the emergence of different powers in search of a foothold in an space Paris nonetheless considers components of its sphere of affect, notably Turkey underneath President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but additionally more and more China and Russia.

‘Political precedence’

The tour “will present the dedication of the president within the strategy of renewing the connection with the African continent”, mentioned a French presidential official, who requested to not be named.

It can sign that the African continent is a “political precedence” of his presidency.

In Cameroon, which has been riven by ethnic violence and an insurgency by anglophone separatists, Macron will meet President Paul Biya, 89, who has dominated the nation for nearly 40 years and is the longest-serving non-royal chief on the earth.

Biya has run the nation with an iron fist, refusing calls for for federalism and cracking down on the rebel by separatists. 

Macron will transfer on Wednesday to Benin, a neighbour of Africa’s most populous nation Nigeria. The north of the nation has confronted extra lethal assaults, with the jihadist menace now spreading from the Sahel to Gulf of Guinea nations.

He’s more likely to be lauded for championing the return in November of 26 historic treasures which have been stolen in 1892 by French colonial forces from Abomey, capital of the previous Dahomey kingdom situated within the south of modern-day Benin.

Benin was lengthy praised for its thriving multi-party democracy. However critics say its democracy has steadily eroded underneath President Patrice Talon over the past half decade. Opposition chief Reckya Madougou was sentenced in 2021 to twenty years in jail on terrorism costs.

On Thursday, Macron will end his tour in Guinea-Bissau, which has been riven by political disaster at a time when its President Umaro Sissoco Embalo is making ready to take the helm of the Financial Group of West African States (ECOWAS).

Rethink technique

With all of the international locations criticised by activists over their rights information, the Elysee has insisted that governance and rights points will probably be raised, albeit “with out media noise however within the type of direct exchanges between the heads of states”. 

Macron’s first time period was marked by visits to non-francophone African international locations together with regional powerhouses Nigeria and South Africa as he sought to have interaction with all the continent and never simply former French possessions.

Benin is a former French colony, however Guinea-Bissau was as soon as a Portuguese colony whereas Cameroon’s colonial heritage is a mix of British and German in addition to French.

Macron in the meantime has insisted France’s army presence within the area will adapt somewhat than disappear as soon as the pullout from Mali is full.

He introduced final week {that a} rethink of France’s presence could be full by autumn, saying the army needs to be “much less uncovered” sooner or later however their deployment nonetheless a “strategic necessity”.

The pullout from Mali follows a breakdown in relations with the nation’s ruling junta, which Western states accuse of counting on Russian Wagner mercenaries somewhat than European allies to struggle an Islamist insurgency. 

(AFP)

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