The French President Outlines a New Approach to African Policy
Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, has outlined a new path to be taken by his country regarding relations with the African continent. Macron asserted that he hailed from a generation that would not dictate to Africans what to do. The president also said that he would declassify the files held by his government on the assassination of the former leader of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara.
Mr. Macron is on a three-day tour of the West African region including the former French colony of Upper Volta now known as Burkina Faso. He is also set to take a European-African Summit to Ghana and Ivory Coast. A grenade was thrown at French soldiers hours before Macron landed in Ouagadougou, the Capital City of Burkina Faso. According to reports by the French media, three civilians had sustained wounds from the grenade shrapnel.
In another separate event, stones were thrown at a vehicle that was ferrying a delegation from France. However, according to the president’s spokesperson, Macron was attending a meeting with the president of Burkina Faso and was not in the convoy. The speech by President Macron comes at a time when there is growing hostility by French-speaking African countries towards his government. In the streets of former French colonies and on social media, there are calls for Paris to stop supporting corrupt states in West Africa.
Civil society in countries like Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Chad, Togo, and Guinea accuse the French government of being complicit in holding back economic progress and of human rights. Former colonies of France such as the Central African Republic and Mali are among the most troubled and economically impoverished countries in the African continent and by extension, the world. Other former colonies that are experiencing some progress like Ivory Coast are locked in neocolonialism where French multinationals take pride in natural resource and oil mining.
Another emblem of the dismay of African countries with France is the CFA Franc. This is a currency used in 14 former French colonies in Africa and is pegged to the Euro. However, critics say that it is a representative of neocolonialism and a symbol of the colonial legacy. President Macron asserted that his generation has no intentions of dictating the destiny of the African continent to Africans. The tangled relationship between Paris and Africa is equally cherished by French businessmen and some of the presidents who have served for long. Critics say that it will be quite hard to undo the ties between the continent and Paris.
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