President Macron in Africa: a new relationship with France? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ahmedou Ould Abdallah cosigned Pascal Boniface IRIS France   
Saturday, 17 June 2017 15:41

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The French president, Emmanuel Macron, will make his second trip to Africa in one month, after receiving in Paris the Ivorian and Senegalese presidents. In keeping with his campaign announcement, he is making the African continent a priority.




 There is no need to recall the long history which links France to Africa, its sometimes glorious and sometimes shameful pages, its goodness and its misdemeanors. But this historical basis can not be enough to determine the future of Franco-African relations. In French-speaking Africa, France no longer enjoys the strategic, economic and cultural monopoly it previously enjoyed. Africa has stepped into globalization and is increasing in partnerships with non-European powers. This is an opportunity for African countries and a challenge for France. That is a challenge to France. For its part, France can not be satisfied with an inner African francophone group and must also turn to Anglophone and Portuguese-speaking Africa.


Within the Sahelian zone, where E. Macron will go, France real battle to wage - and to win – with its African partners is that of security and development. These two paths are not antagonistic but, on the contrary, fundamentally complementary. It is necessary to act on both fronts simultaneously in order to create a virtuous circle: a security that allows development, a pledge itself of security, and not be drawn into the vicious circle of insecurity and underdevelopment.


France has an old military presence in support of security and stability in the Sahel Sahara region, renewed after 2013 and Operation Serval. During his visit to the French troops in Gao, E. Macron said: "I will act in Africa in total transparency away from networks of connivance". It is only in Africa that such statements are regularly made, either to justify or to criticize them. We must "simply" treat Africa like other countries, in the same spirit of partnership with mutual interests.


Born a generation after the independence of 1960, E. Macron must avoid the widely repeated speeches on the past and their outmoded guilt that comfort and disempower the ruling elites in Africa without however resolving the political and economic background problems. It is not a matter of denying history but of projecting oneself towards a future where everyone assumes his share of immediate and future responsibility.


Africa needs less state if it means a stifling and paralyzing bureaucracy but more state if it is to build the necessary infrastructure. The consolidation of administrations is essential in order to avoid a return to the clans and tribes of the pre-colonial era. The African armies must not only be more professional but also more national in other words with lesser ethnic-regional or religious bases.


The fight against terrorism must no longer justify breaches of good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law as did the struggle against communism yesterday. That has helped to launder support for detestable regimes that have left catastrophic legacies, which are the source of many of today's evils. The blatant corruption practices that discredit regimes, despairing the youth, pushing them to rebellion, trafficking or immigration, must be combated.


The indispensable fight against terrorism cannot be achieved by accepting the deleterious practices that feed it. France does not have to choose the African regimes in the place of the Africans themselves but at a time, when it is experiencing a renewal of its political leadership at a very high magnitude, it cannot unconditionally support all African regimes. She must have relationships with all but keep her distance with some. In countries where democracy is still imperfect, it is necessary to develop links with civil society. That is not moralité but realpolitik.


Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 June 2017 16:01 )

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