France's tense situation on the African continent has led the country to implement new policies, notably the demilitarisation of former French colonies

Macron sobre África: “Estamos en una posición que no va por buen camino y es en buena parte nuestra culpa”

AFP/YOAN VALAT - French President Emmanuel Macron

During his tour of Africa, French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated a new phase based on the abandonment of France as a military partner in the battles against jihadism. He is also asking African governments to be loyal to them and to be a strategic partner, and not to accept alliances with countries that could fill the vacuum left by this withdrawal, such as Russia, China and the United States. France provoked a difficult situation, given its historical influence in Africa, when it decided to withdraw from the war against terrorist groups and asked local troops to take on the task without adequate preparation. This manoeuvre, based on evading the front lines, would push Paris' interests to the back ranks in the face of strong competition from the other three states. 

An adviser to the French governor said, in outlining the new strategy to Paris: "We are coming out of a phase in which France was forced to be on the front lines", discussing a new period now in which Paris is "on the back line", i.e. helping with plans and military experience in the war without any role. There are doubts in the French executive that Macron will be able to convince with this strategy during his tour of four central African countries: Gabon, Angola, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Among Paris's concerns are the responses of its African allies on economic support, as he stated in his speech on Monday, when he spoke of "his priorities and his method for deepening the partnership between France, Europe and the African continent". 

"Building a new balanced and reciprocal relationship" is the objective Macron set out in his speech on the strategy to be followed by the French country. The president admitted that his administration must show "profound humility in the face of what is at stake on the African continent", which is experiencing "a situation unprecedented in history" with "a sum of dizzying challenges", recalling the "security, climate and demographic challenges". Moreover, the French leader explained that he will not allow France to be the "ideal scapegoat" on the continent. Macron's military plan establishes a "visible reduction" in the presence of French soldiers. Specifically, he pointed out that his country will only have military bases co-managed with African countries. 

A message that has exploded in the face of the anti-French sentiment that has emerged in some African nations and in the face of criticism that France has received for failing to stop radical Islamist militancy, mainly in the Sahel. In this regard, he used the example of Mali, where the authorities ended up requesting the departure of the French special force deployed to combat jihadism in the Sahel. A similar decision was taken earlier this year by Burkina Faso. "Indeed, there is an idea that France is to blame for everything, and when there is disenchantment, people come and say it's your fault. "No, it's not our fault," he stressed, while still specifying his "pride" in the leading role that France has played in the offensive against terrorism since 2013, something that no other nation has done.


The situation has developed dishonestly for the French, especially since people are demonstrating to demand France's exit, and hostile slogans have appeared in their traditional areas of influence such as Chad, Mali and Burkina Faso. Paris has given a precious gift to those seeking to exploit its historical influence in Africa. In Mali, France accuses the military council of using the services of the Wagner Group, which is close to the Kremlin and active in another former French colony, the Central African Republic. In Burkina Faso, the military junta withdrew from the defence agreements signed between Paris and Ouagadougou, and the 400 or so French troops withdrew from the country last week. 

In that region and across the continent, the influence of France and Western countries faces stiff competition from China and Russia. Three of the four countries the French president will visit, namely Gabon, Congo and Angola, abstained last Thursday from voting on a draft resolution in the UN General Assembly calling for the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine. "Today, African countries are choosing their partners freely and sovereignly, and that is a good thing," he said. He also believes that anti-French sentiment in Francophone Africa is forcing Paris to change its "stance towards more listening and humility". 


Regarding two of the countries that share a history of colonialism and war with France, Morocco and Algeria, Macron recalled that the largest diaspora in the Maghreb is precisely on French territory. Evoking friendly meetings with Morocco's King Mohamed VI and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Macron said he wanted to focus on what the new generations want: progress in university exchanges, the economy, trade, culture and sport. He also announced a change in visa programmes, which will remain a tool against illegal immigration, but will reduce the impact on those who want to enter France officially and bring something positive. "We are going to organise ourselves better. The timing is not the best, but that will not stop me," Macron said. 

Macron's will, despite the bad moment that relations between the two countries are going through, is to move forward with Morocco through dialogue in the search for a joint solution that is to the liking of both states. The French leader reaffirms that relations with Morocco are friendly. He clarified and denied that all the recent polemics in the European Parliament concerning Morocco had been prompted by France, and therefore strongly criticised all the polemics created recently by the media. 


Declared friend of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Macron does not have the best of times with Algiers either. This is reflected when, in relation to the North African country, the French leader has advocated the controversial return to France of a French-Algerian journalist from Tunisia. He has also stated that he will continue his policies towards Algeria in both economic and military terms. After many years, the two countries have organised a meeting between the two presidents, defence ministers and the chief of the general staff. On the issue of mobilisation, the French Foreign Ministry is addressing the visa problem and pursuing a clearer and more concise policy in this regard, without neglecting the control of illegal immigration. Even so, it recognises that relations are not in the best of times.