The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, reproached his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on Saturday for Paris’ position towards the African country and insisted on the need for it to be treated with respect and not with a tone “paternalistic”, collect local media.
“Look at us differently, respecting us, considering us as true partners and not always with a paternalistic look, with the idea of always knowing what we need,” Tshisekedi declared during a joint press conference with Macron, who visited the country’s capital, Kinshasa, as part of his tour of the continent. from March 2 to 5.
“If France wants to compete today with all the other partners in Africa, must tune in to African politics and the way African people now look at cooperation partners,” Tshisekedi warned. “We are not here to serve you soup“, he asserted, addressing the French president.
In his statements, which caused an ovation among those present, the leader of the DRC referred to the words of the former French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drianwho questioned Tshisekedi’s rise to power in 2019, by stating that the election results were not “consistent”.
For his part, Macron tried to tone down the accusatory tone of his counterpart, attributing the recriminations to the press. “I want them to know that when there are electoral problems in the US or in France, the press talks about them, denounces them (…). It is the work of the independent press,” debated the french president. However, Tshisekedi immediately refuted the answer, pointing out that he was referring to Le Drian.
Another key point that ha increased tensions between France and DRC is the revolt of the rebel group March 23 Movement (M23), whose main driver, according to Kinshasa, is Rwanda. Despite having started a peace process last November in Luanda, the capital of Angola, and the union of regional efforts to put an end to hostilities, no results have yet been recorded.
In this sense, from the DRC, the last destination of the French leader’s African tour, it was expected that he would take measurements in this regard, however, Macron only urged “assume their responsibilities”without implementing concrete measures or sanctions.
Protests surrounding Macron’s tour
The arrival of the President of France in the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was preceded by a series of protests nationals. Even if they were not on a large scale, they could be seen as signs of a growing anti-French sentiment in parts of French-speaking Africa, collects Reuters.
A week before Macron set foot on the soil of the African country, Congolese protesters filled one of the city’s busy streets to distribute leaflets intended to promote rejection of your visit. According to one of the activists, Paris was turning its attention to Central Africa due to the breakdown of relations with the former West African colonies.
Around 100 protesters also gathered in front of the French Embassy in Kinshasa and one of them had written on the wall of the building: “Macron, go away”, in big red letters. The politician was accused of being the French president who “More contact has he had with Rwanda“.
However, Macron himself acknowledged that France was among the states fighting for influence in Africa. “We want to be long-term partners,” said the French leader. “Africa is a theater of competition. It has to be done within a fair framework,” he promised. “We have our role to play, no more, no less,” added the president.
Counting the last tour, they are already 18 visits made by Macron to Africa as president. However, he is not the only foreign leader seeking closer ties with the continent: high-level officials from the United States, Russia and China also recently made official visits to Africa.
Africa and new world reality
Meanwhile, Macron declared this Thursday during his visit to Gabon that the time of the so-called Francafrica (‘Françafrique’, in French), a term used to describe Paris’s strategy to defend its interests in the former colonies, came to an end.
“The era of ‘Françafrique’ is over and sometimes I have the feeling that mentalities are not evolving at the same pace as we are when I read, hear, and see that people continue to attribute to France intentions that they don’t have, that they no longer have” , emphasized the president in a speech before the French community in the capital of Gabon, Libreville.
In this sense, Macron indicated that they expect positions from Paris that “refuses to take”, emphasizing that France today chooses to be “a neutral interlocutor” on the African continent and has no plans to “interfere in the internal political exchanges” of African nations.
At the same time, the politician admitted at the end of February that the French country made mistakes in the past in its relations with Africa and announced a significant reduction in the French military presence on the continent, while protests are being made in many African countries. a strong feeling against the West, which is why various governments in the region are choosing to strengthen relations with China or Russia.
France’s problems in Africa
France is now facing several problems related to the weakening of their positions In the continent.
In an attempt to change the situation, shortly after his inauguration in 2017, Macron announced a new policy for his country in Africa, within which he wanted to establish new ties with the States of the continent, as well as overcome the negative trail of the times of the French colonialism.
It is worth mentioning that the French president chose to avoid focusing on politics this week and instead announced that Paris will provide humanitarian aid to eastern Congo and support agriculture and forests, sparking controversy among experts.
“There is no political or strategic coherence in this four-day tripit feels like they’re holding on to something,” said Jean Gaspard Ntoutoume Ayi, vice president of Gabonese’s opposition Union Nationale party.