Last week, the media did not fail to note the coincidence of visits to Africa by French President Emmanuel Macron and the head of Russian diplomacy. Sergeï Lavrov. The first went to Cameroon, Benin, and Guinee-Bissau, while the second moved to Egypt, Congo Brazzaville, Uganda and Ethiopia. From his first speech in Cameroon, Emmanuel Macron chose to hold this “competition” in Africa between the two “powers” that continue to enjoy a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
As always in his diplomatic interventions, the French president did not go there by four roads. He is qualified (according to him “with great peace and tranquility”) the position “African” about the war in Ukraine “in hypocrisy”explains later by “diplomatic pressure” used in Russia. Since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, many African countries have abstained from votes condemning Russia at the United Nations. Including Cameroon, oremphasis the signing of military cooperation agreements with Moscow has recently made headlines. After the position of Emmanuel Macron, the Cameroonian President Paul Biya wants to reduce this change to a ” agreement foreavailable » with Russia, presenting it as “an act of normalization of diplomatic relations between our two countries” and D’“an act of pure governance in a bilateral relationship”.
Paternalism in the French posture
In West Africa, the ” thevsWE » of the president of Francevsais immediately garnered a lot of criticism. Outside France, commentators have not failed to criticize the paternalism of the French posture. For France, which has lost momentum in Africa, the urgency is clear not to renew relations with the heads of state, and civil society can wait. In Africa, this real haste of France, this short-sighted (non)strategy, finally locks it in a vicious circle that will lead it to lose influence more and more every day.
In Cameroon, this key country for the presence of France in Africa (the port of Douala actually ensures the supply of Chad and the Central African Republic), the entire population is wondering who will replace Paul Biya, 89, changed- or for the seventh term in 2018. Faced with this uncertain political context, the Elysée is trying to save the furniture but using old recipes. Emmanuel Macron’s adviser on Africa, Franck Paris, recently received the son of the Cameroonian leader, Franck Biya, who is considered by some as a possible successor. In the first effect: while the opposition criticized a new intervention in France, Emmanuel Macron did not forget to meet personally with the son of Biya during his visit to Cameroon, which is not the best signal that sent by civil society. Cameroonian …
Opening the archives of the colonial presence
However, to look good, Emmanuel Macron made the opening of the archives of the French colonial presence in Cameroon to historians. A commemorative posture that is also used by the president of France in Algeria or Rwanda. However, this did not stop the French president from multiplying the postures of the father. The latter was not only concerned about Russia’s interference in Africa, he also criticized the “Economic management issues” and demands that African countries regulate “The subjects of corruption and excessive debt (…) are a scourge for the African continent”, taking no tweezers in the point of view of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In addition to Russia, Emmanuel Macron clearly has China’s offensive in Africa in mind. However, facing the most powerful of the 21st century, there is no question for the French president to conduct a “competition” in which France no longer has a place.
A less than glorious record
Emmanuel Macron’s last diplomatic tour in Africa did not hide the country’s loss of influence on the continent. The results of the last five-year term were hardly glorious. And while Europe is trying in every way to find alternative fossil resources in Russia, France is floundering in North Africa. Its relationship with Morocco continuesvery difficult, and Italy roasted the goodwill a few weeks ago by signing a giant gas contract with Algeria. Gone are the days when France was still politely expected on the continent. Today, African countries are welcomed by all the great powers of the world.