On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron ended his tour of the African continent, which began March 1, with visits to Gabon, Angola, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is the French President’s 18th tour of Africa.
On the eve of the tour, February 27, Macron made a big speech about the continent at the Elysee Palace, where he declared the end of the “Françafrique” era. But experts see behind this statement only an attempt to retain influence in Africa against the background of Paris’ failures: While Macron spoke beautifully about the “new partnership”, in Congo people came out to demonstrations with the slogan “Macron is a murderer”, and the authorities of Burkina Faso denounced the agreement on military and technical assistance.
In his speech on the eve of his tour, Macron tried to present a new orientation for his African policy, although, in essence, it can be summarized as follows: We are against colonialism, but we have been in the African colonies too long to simply leave them alone.
Macron announced the end of the “French Africa” era. Instead, he said, there must be a balanced partnership.
He stated there is “…another path that consists in not reducing Africa to a field of competition or rent and to consider African countries as partners with whom we have shared interests and responsibilities. And, basically, to build a new relationship, balanced, reciprocal and responsible”.
Macron’s statements were not aimed at a French withdrawal from Africa. He reminded very explicitly that Paris has already invested too much in the continent to simply leave a “void” behind.
“I have no nostalgia for Françafrique, but I don’t want to leave an absence or a void behind,” he said. Macron added that France would continue the reform of the CFA franc and other initiatives and entrepreneurship.
Interestingly, among France’s mistakes on the continent, Macron cited not siphoning off resources and military interventions, but taking on “exorbitant responsibility”. In other words, Macron did not deplore Paris’ destructive policies in Africa: He only regretted that France had not sufficiently colonized the region.
The same applied to military matters: Macron made it clear that he is not going to withdraw troops from all African territories – the innovation of the new approach is that in the future French military bases on the continent will allegedly be “managed jointly” with local personnel. That is, he confirmed that France had previously engaged in military adventures and sent its own contingent without permission or request from the Africans.
“We note that Macron’s speech was repeated in Ouagadougou and in several other African countries. But this time, we see a certain appeasement. Macron stressed that France must intervene in Africa with a certain humility. There is a change in the arrogance of France towards Africa,” Dr. Garba Moussa, an academic and analyst of African politics, told Anadolu.
In Kinshasa, Macron refused to answer uncomfortable questions. At a joint press conference with President Felix Tshisekedi, Macron was reminded of France’s involvement in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and asked how Paris wanted to participate in restoring security in the east. “I am for the truth, but for the whole truth: I refuse to take on the entire burden,” the President commented.
Against the backdrop of Macron’s African tour, anti-French actions took place in various countries: protests, demonstrations, and diplomatic gestures against Francafrique.
In particular, in the Congolese capital Kinshasa, people came out with placards against the visit of the French delegation and chanted, “Macron is a murderer, Putin to the rescue!”
Civil movements in the DRC, such as FILIMBI, The Fight for Change (LUCHA) and others, organized a protest march in which they criticized not only the colonial policy of Paris, but also the loyalty to French interests of the official authorities of the country.
“The President Macron is the one who has the most connections with the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, who participates in the balkanization of the DRC. We are not fooled and Emmanuel Macron is not welcome here in the Congo,” said Maud-Salomé Ekila of the Pan-Africanist Alliance in front of the French Embassy in the DRC.
Another striking anti-French action took place in Burkina Faso, whose authorities denounced the military and technical assistance agreement concluded with France in April 1961. They demanded the final withdrawal from their territory of all French servicemen and civilians within a month. The process of expulsion of French military personnel was initiated as early as February (in particular aviation and groups of soldiers). Relations between Burkina Faso and France became tense after the military coup in September 2022, caused by the failure of the fight against terrorists and the loyalty of the authorities to Paris.
The search for alternative partners
After becoming disillusioned with France as an ineffective supporter in the antiterrorist struggle, Burkina Faso (like Mali, the Central African Republic, and other countries) increasingly turned to alternative partners, including Turks, Russians, and Chinese. In Mali, for example, are actively cooperating not only with the official Russian authorities, but also with the Wagner group, which proved to be much more effective for joint operations. By the way, it was this group that Macron once again criticized in the background of the African tour.
Not surprisingly, Paris reacts sharply negative to increasing confidence in other states, especially the Russians. The fruitful cooperation also affects geopolitical assessments: in particular, African countries do not condemn the Russian Federation for a special military operation, contrary to the mainstream in the West.
“We see that Macron’s speech is a speech that was repeated in Ouagadougou and in a number of other African countries. But this time there is some relief. Macron emphasized that France must intervene in Africa with a certain modesty. There we see a change in France’s arrogance toward Africa,” scholar Dr. Garba Moussa, an analyst of African politics, told Anadolu.
According to this expert on African politics, Macron also calculated that France would accept American policies in Africa, while remaining very cautious because of its presence on the continent with a reduced workforce.
Amir Nourdine Elbachir, political, geopolitical and geostrategic analyst, commented on Macron’s visit: “Respect is not bequeathed, it is earned, often only when one decides to be courageous. Tshisekedi should reject Macron’s insulting visit to DRC. One of the best ways to mark his opposition to the hypocritical policy française towards his country. “
“Macron’s visit to Africa will be a fiasco. Africa and Africans no longer want empty speeches, but concrete actions. No word on industrialization in the speeches at the end of a so-called will to change.”
Famous French pan-Africanist Kemi Seba commented on Macron’s tour: “The French embassy in Kinshasa shaken by Congolese pan-Africanist activists. Macron condemned by the patriotic youth, for his increased collaboration with the bloodthirsty Paul Kagame, but also for his neocolonial policy in Africa”.
“The embassy of Françafrique, uhhh, sorry, of France in DRC, was “decorated” by Congolese panafricanist militants, who do not forgive Macron’s collusion with the bloodthirsty Paul Kagame, just as they do not accept Macron’s neocolonial policy.”
Thus, Macron’s reign may be remembered as the one under which the French will be kicked out of the continent for good, despite all attempts to stay there and talk about some abstract “partnership,” while Europe continues to take resources from Africa with impunity and holds their gold and currency system hostage. On top of this, inside France, under Macron and his neoliberal reforms, internal pressures are also building up: the pension reform alone is causing a sharp resentment, followed by strikes. Thus, Macron will have difficulty convincing his own taxpayers to continue his senseless ventures abroad.