The French President Appoints an Advisory Panel on Africa
Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his interest in prioritizing the continent of Africa more highly in French foreign policy. He reportedly plans to present a major address on this topic in November. The French leader has also appointed an advisory council to assist him in formulating policies regarding African issues.
The French Presidential Council For Africa
President Macron plans to meet with his new Presidential Council For Africa prior to departing on a state visit to the West African nation of Burkina Faso. He established the advisory body after promising to implement this measure during his campaign for office. It consists of eleven members. President Macron will ask the council to help him prepare speeches he will deliver during trips to African nations.
The Presidential Council For Africa will enjoy personal access to the French President. Members of the group can offer technical advice about his policies and interactions with African governments. President Macron has expressed the hope the council will serve as a valuable tool for opening meaningful "channels of discussion" with Africans.
An Elite Group
On August 29th, the President selected Vanessa Moungar of the African Development Bank to serve on the Council. She currently holds the position of Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society at the agency. Other members of the advisory body include Sarah Toumi, a French-Tunisian businesswoman and Karim Sy, an interpreter with connections to France, Senegal and Lebanon.
President Macron has also appointed Yvonne Mburu, a researcher from Kenya, to the advisory council. He also selected one of his former university classmates, Jules Armand Aniambossou, a former French Ambassador to Benin, to participate. Attorney Yves-Justice Djimi and soccer star Jean-Marc Adjovi-Boco also serve as members.
Avoiding Public Relations Problems
Some critics of French policies in Africa accused President Macron's predecessor of making a public relations blunder during his first address delivered in Africa. President Macron reportedly hopes his new advisors will help him avoid committing a similar mistake. The appointees will evidently enjoy ready access to powerful French decision makers.
In former centuries, France maintained a number of colonies in Africa. France still maintains close ties to some African nations. President Macron has indicated he will emphasize Africa in his government's foreign policy in coming months. His speech in November may set the tone for this shift.
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