Emmanuel Macron and Africa, the limits of a new relationship

By deciding to work together, journalists Antoine Glaser and Pascal Airault offer a complete and very documented decryption of Emmanuel Macron’s African policy (1). A policy thought to break with that of its predecessors.

To free himself from the links and the unhealthy game between Paris and its former colonies in Africa, Emmanuel Macron relied on his age – he is from a new generation which has not compromised on the continent – and he is is shot on the side of Anglophone and Lusophone Africa. Hence his travels to Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, his next visit to Angola and his policy of rapprochement with Kigali.

→ DEBATE. Is France overtaken by African affairs?

But, note the two authors, these trips and this spirit of openness have not – yet? – paid off. Contracts, economic and diplomatic partnerships were not really there, as shown in the chapter devoted to Nigeria.

Support for autocrats

So Emmanuel Macron did not have the means, in reality, to break with the old French policy in Africa: that which consists in supporting the autocrats of the countries of the historic backyard. He did try to erase this relationship ” with a magic slate ” : in vain ! The French president had to resolve to support them, in turn, so as not to lose a foothold on the continent.

Paris’ military engagement in the Sahel, the authors explain, is the tree that hides the forest of French devitalization and withdrawal in Africa. If a few French family economic groups, such as Bolloré or Castel, are still present on the continent, the time has come above all for the presence of large Chinese groups and the resurgence of Turkey and Russia. In this international context, Paris considers that it cannot play the virtuous.

The trap of France, African power at the UN

Especially since the relationship between France and Africa is also played out on another stage: that of the United Nations. To weigh in further, Paris cannot do without the voices of its former colonies. Antoine Glaser and Pascal Airault show how France is perceived as an African power at the UN: hence again, its influence and its relative importance.

With the sudden death of Idriss Déby in Chad on April 20, the news has just given a striking example of the relationship of dependence in which France finds itself with its former colonies. In 2013 and then 2014, Paris would not have been able to undertake the Serval and then Barkhane operations in the Sahel without the diplomatic and military support of Idriss Déby.

The same goes for the G5 Sahel, the joint force it launched. Without the Chadian president, the entire security structure set up by the Elysee in the Sahel no longer holds. Hence the unfailing support of Paris for this president who is so undemocratic, and now for his son.

And too bad if the latter seized power on the death of his father by violating the constitutional framework and the rule of law. It is the same with Mali and with many other countries, from Togo to Cameroon, from Congo Brazzaville to Djibouti.

Diaspora diplomacy

To renew French policy in Africa, Emmanuel Macron wanted to go through the diaspora, explain the two authors. This is why he created a Presidential Council for Africa (CPA), made up of a small liberal and globalized Franco-African elite, the “first of the ropes”, who do not manage to drag many people behind them. . A real false good idea, say the Africanists: this diaspora chosen by Macron is not well connected either to the realities of contemporary Africa, or to the African populations of the French suburbs.

Among the gestures of rupture recommended by the CPA include the abolition of the CFA Franc, the return of cultural goods, the memory of the Algerian war, the rapprochement with Rwanda. Files that have not all been really searched to the end, note the two journalists. And therefore, which have not obtained, there too, the desired effects vis-à-vis African opinions.

In conclusion is an interview that Emmanuel Macron gave to the two journalists. We read there this profession of faith of the President of the Republic: ” I believe in the continuity of national policy and African policy because we are linked. »Linked, but for how long?


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