In a last-ditch effort to defend French interests in Africa, French President Emmanuel Macron set out on a tour of Central Africa on Wednesday. This is despite the fact that the majority of African countries have a strong anti-French sentiment.
On Wednesday, he arrived in the capital of Gabon, Libreville, and will then travel to Angola, Congo-Brazzaville, and the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Macron’s trip occurs as concern in Paris over Russia’s expanding influence in nations that speak French in Africa, joining China, which has been there for some time, is growing.
On Wednesday, Burkina Faso informed France that it was canceling a 1961 agreement that served as the foundation for French military aid.
Macron called for a “mutual and responsible relationship” with the continent of more than 50 countries, including on climate issues, in a speech on France’s Africa policy on Monday.
Although a military source and analyst have suggested that French army chiefs may be hesitant to do so, he also stated that the French military would reduce its presence on the continent in the upcoming months.
A speech that failed to persuade both the diaspora and Africa, where there are growing calls for the removal of France’s presence.
According to official statistics, there are more than 3,000 French soldiers serving in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Gabon, and Djibouti.
Another 3,000 people live in the northern Sahel region, which includes Niger and Chad.
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Macron will have dinner with Ali Bongo Ondimba, the president of Gabon, on Wednesday.
He will go to the One Forest Summit on Thursday to discuss protecting forests all over the world, including those in the enormous Congo River basin.
Marc Ona Essangui, a Gabonese environmental activist, expressed concern that Macron’s visit would take attention away from the primary objective of the rainforest summit.
Instead, he predicted that Gabonese citizens would see his presence as supporting Bongo politically as the country prepares for presidential elections later this year.
People are noticing that Emmanuel Macron is supporting his candidate, he claimed.
Since taking over as president in 2009, Bongo, 64, has been in power.
As part of his commitment to making Africa a priority during his second term, Macron visited Cameroon, Benin, and Guinea-Bissau in July.
On Friday, he travels from Gabon to the former Portuguese colony of Angola. He will sign an agreement there to advance the agricultural industry as part of an effort to strengthen French ties with English- and Portuguese-speaking regions of Africa.
He will then make a stop in the Republic of Congo, another ex-colony of France, where President Denis Sassou Nguesso has ruled intermittently for almost 40 years.
He will finish his trip on Saturday when he gets to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.