Thomas Borrel and Antoine Glaser: “A French military withdrawal from Africa would be a marker of rupture”

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The image is as implacable as it is evocative of the state of relations between France and its former colonies in Africa. Four years after the Ouagadougou speech of November 28, 2017, in which Emmanuel Macron presented his strategy to change the narrative and the nature of relations between Paris and Africa, it is in this same country, Burkina Faso, that a convoy of the French army has been blocked in recent days by demonstrators, accusing France in particular of delivering weapons to the jihadists.

Read also Emmanuel Macron’s speech in Ouagadougou

Thomas Borrel, spokesperson for the Survie association and co-author of the book The Empire that does not want to die (Threshold, 1,008 pages, 25 euros), and Antoine Glaser, co-author of Macron’s African trap (Fayard, 272 pages, 19 euros), analyze, with very different perspectives, the reasons for France’s difficulties in renewing its policy and its image in Africa.

Why does France’s image continue to deteriorate in its former colonies?

Thomas Borrel: During the Ouagadougou speech, Emmanuel Macron went so far as to assert that there was no longer an African policy for France. There were symbolic announcements, suitable for creating a communication bubble, as with the restitution of works of art, but their scope remains limited. Faced with the protest against the CFA franc or against the military system in the Sahel, there are small adjustments that do not change anything in depth. It should therefore come as no surprise that Paris is increasingly unpopular with African youth.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Emmanuel Macron’s African policy, a project of renewal to the test of reality

Antoine Glaser : In my opinion, the common thread of “Françafrique” and therefore of this unpopularity, is the maintenance of the French army on the continent. It serves as a hide-and-seek for a generally dormant presence. In the imagination of Africans, these soldiers are the incarnation of old-fashioned “Françafrique”. We saw it in Chad after the death of Idriss Déby [le 20 avril 2021] : the son was knighted by France because there was no plan B. But this presence is also what gives the impression to other Europeans that, after having been the policeman of Africa against the Soviet Union, the French army is the gendarme against Islamism.

Would a renegotiation of defense agreements and the withdrawal of military bases calm relations?

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Thomas Borrel and Antoine Glaser: “A French military withdrawal from Africa would be a marker of rupture”

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