During his recent four-day African tour, French President Emmanuel Macron was forced to admit that the era of the “Françafrique” is over in Gabon. It existed for more than six decades, realizing Paris’ desire to imprison its former colonies in Africa in the “arms” of enslaving economic agreements and informal arrangements with the local elites that came to power, whom Paris managed to corrupt and persuade to work not for the development of their countries, but for the purse of France and its own interests. It is no secret that billions of euros have been added to France’s explicit and hidden budgets over the years, financing intelligence operations, mercenary expeditions, and the maintenance of the French military contingent in African countries, which turned out to be a sham. Paris will now only act as a “neutral interlocutor,” according to the current French president.
Speaking about Paris’ new policy towards African countries, President Macron said at the end of February that the number of French troops in Africa will be significantly reduced “in the coming months.” As you know, last summer the Elysée Palace announced the end of the withdrawal of troops from Mali after nine years of presence there, due to the position of the new government in the country, which is very critical of France’s actions in the Sahara-Sahel region and its outright inaction to curb radical militants, the continued policy of neocolonialism. France announced its withdrawal from Burkina Faso at the end of January, following the African country’s new authorities’ denunciation of the 2018 agreement on the status of French troops.
Under these circumstances, the main concentration of French troops on the African continent now remains at the French base in Côte d’Ivoire near Abidjan, where 900 troops are stationed, with 350 troops each stationed in Senegal and Gabon. More than 2,500 more are dispersed in Chad and Niger after the withdrawal of French troops from Mali and Burkina Faso.
Having announced the beginning of a new “era of balanced partnership,” Macron is well aware that the situation today for Paris in Africa is such that it is not to expand its influence, building on the past relationship, but to preserve at least what remains.
The current attitude of African countries to the policy of Paris is vividly demonstrated by the scandal with the head of this country Félix Antoine Tshisekedi during Macron’s visit to Congo because of France’s involvement in the genocide in Rwanda. According to the joint press conference of March 5, Macron was reminded what role was played by France during the genocide in Rwanda, and especially during the operation of the Forces démocratiques de libération in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a humanitarian corridor was passing through. Then, armed militants entered the territory of the DRC despite the resistance of the Congolese authorities, resulting in more than 10 million deaths!
Despite the fact that the UN experts in their reports have noted the aggression of Rwanda by the M-23 rebel group, France, as a member of the UN Security Council, has not condemned Rwanda and has not imposed sanctions against it, although it does so today in a very aggressive manner against Russia from its openly Russophobic position.
And, after Paris allocated $20 million to Rwanda, the country that attacked the DRC, residents of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) questioned whether France could still be considered a friendly country. At the same time, the question was put to the President of France:after the Congolese people had become victims of France’s solidarity, how did Paris plan to solve the security issue in the eastern provinces where it had sent its military and compensate the Congolese people for the damage they had suffered? — However, President Macron did not provide a clear response, confirming the failure not only of the current French leader’s visit to the Congo, but also of Paris’ policy in general in the “Dark Continent.”
But it is not only in politics that the role of Paris is falling here, but also in economic terms, France’s share of African exports has halved since 2000, falling from 11% to 5.5%, and this decline applies to all sectors except aerospace.
As rightly noted by Boulevard Voltaire, in this situation of general failure, Paris has only one strategy – to pretend that nothing bad happened, to play the pioneer and propose a transition “from donation aid to investment.” Which is what Macron tried to do during his African tour.
But these are in fact empty words which reveal absolutely nothing, except one thing – the impotence of clearly not the best French president.
Moreover, even before this African tour of the French president began it was clear to everyone that it would in no way improve relations between Paris and its African partners, just as sixteen other trips to the African continent since the beginning of Macron’s first presidential term. And it was not only in France that it was clear that this former metropolis was catastrophically losing any influence on the continent with which it was historically linked.
Today, other players are active and very successful in Africa: China, Russia, India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. And often much more successfully than Paris did before. But these countries are also much more successful in other regions of the world, where Paris has tried, as in Africa, to establish itself as a “leading player”. And Africa has become for Paris what Afghanistan was for the United States, turning the “Gallic cock” into a “lame duck.”
The loss of today’s France of its own independent face did not begin today and is actively taking place, at the initiative of Macron, with the increasing subordination of Paris to the dictates of Washington and the Anglo-Saxons in general. And this, in particular, is confirmed by Paris’ recognition of its failure and France’s recent demonstration to “bury the hatchet” with Britain in order to send a signal to Washington’s suzerain about the supposed unity of the West, at least by demonstrating a joint Russophobic position.
In fact, another failure in Paris’ actions was hardly to be expected when even the French media openly write that the representatives of the current authorities of the Fifth Republic are not at all concerned with affairs of state…
Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”