Macron declares end to France’s interference in Africa

Paris (Caasimada Online) – French President Emmanuel Macron has announced an end to French interference in Africa as he embarks on a four-nation tour of the continent to revitalize strained relationships.

The rising influence of Russia and China in Africa has led to anti-French sentiment in some former African colonies.

Macron assured the French community in Libreville that France had no intention of returning to its previous policy of interfering in Africa.

He insisted that “the age of Francafrique is well over,” referring to France’s prior strategy of supporting authoritarian leaders to defend its interests.

France’s post-colonial interference

France’s history of post-colonial African interference has been contentious for decades.

After the wave of decolonization in 1960, France supported authoritarian leaders in its former colonies, enabling them to maintain power in exchange for access to resources and military bases.

This policy, known as “Francafrique,” has been criticized by pan-Africanists, who see it as a form of neo-colonialism.

Despite previous declarations by Macron and his predecessors, such as Francois Hollande, that the policy is dead, the legacy of Francafrique continues to impact France’s relationship with Africa.

Reduction in troop presence

Macron also announced a “noticeable reduction” in France’s troop presence in Africa “in the coming months” and a greater focus on training and equipping allied countries’ forces.

France has withdrawn troops from former colonies Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Central African Republic (CAR) in the past year due to local hostility.

However, Macron insisted that the planned reorganization was “neither a withdrawal nor disengagement” but rather an adaptation to partners’ needs.

The proposed reorganization of France’s military presence in Africa will primarily affect the first three bases, excluding Djibouti, which has a strategic orientation toward the Indian Ocean.

Official figures indicate that over 3,000 French soldiers are deployed in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Gabon, and Djibouti.

An additional 3,000 troops are stationed in the Sahel region of West Africa, including Niger and Chad. The restructuring reflects a shift toward a greater focus on training and equipping allied forces in the region.

Environmental protection drive

Macron landed in Libreville on Wednesday to attend the One Forest Summit.

Several heads of state were expected to discuss preserving rainforests that play a vital role in the global climate system.

The vast Congo River Basin forests are among the planet’s largest carbon sinks and home to enormous biodiversity, including forest elephants and gorillas.

However, they face threats such as poaching, deforestation for the oil, palm, and rubber industries, and illegal logging and mineral exploitation.

The summit kicked off Wednesday with exchanges between ministers, civil society representatives, and experts.

Challenges of mobilizing international finance

Macron toured the Raponda Walker Arboretum, a protected coastal area north of Libreville, with Gabonese environment minister Lee White.

He spoke of the challenges of mobilizing international finance to address environmental issues.

“We always speak of billions in our summits, but people see little of it on the ground because the systems are imperfect,” he said.

On Friday, Macron will travel to Angola, a former Portuguese colony, where he plans to sign an agreement to develop the agricultural sector as part of France’s efforts to strengthen ties with anglophone and Portuguese-speaking Africa.

Following this, he will visit the Republic of Congo, another former French colony ruled by Denis Sassou Nguesso for almost four decades, and the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

These visits underscore France’s renewed interest in Africa and its desire to deepen economic partnerships with the continent.

France’s renewed relationship with the Africa

Last year, Macron visited Cameroon, Benin, and Guinea-Bissau on his first trip to the continent since winning re-election.

A French presidential official said the tour was meant to “show the president’s commitment in the process of renewing the relationship with the African continent” and to signal that the African continent is a “political priority” of his presidency.

Macron’s visit comes at a time when the global geopolitical landscape is shifting, with African nations becoming a renewed diplomatic battleground.

Russia and China have been increasing their influence in the region, challenging the traditional dominance of the West.

France’s renewed interest in Africa is seen as an attempt to maintain its historical role as a major regional power.

France maintains strong cultural and economic ties with many African countries as a former colonial power.

However, its past policies of interference and support for dictators have left a legacy of mistrust.