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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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French President Emmanuel Macron Starts His Africa Trip, Arrives In Gabon

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French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Gabon on Wednesday, the first stop on an African trip that will also take him to Angola, the Congo Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Macron’s African trip is the first by him as President which shifts attention away from France’s troubled former colonies in West Africa’s Sahel region, where anti-French sentiment is on the rise and follows the announcement of a new Africa strategy. 

The escalating unrest has led to military coups in Mali and Burkina Faso, two jihadist hotspots whose ruling juntas have clashed with France as well as other regional and Western partners.

Macron outlined a novel strategy in a speech on Monday, promising that French military bases in Africa would be jointly managed by host countries with fewer French troops on the field.

His schedule, which includes a speech at a high-level forest summit in Libreville on Thursday, indicates an emphasis on the environment, culture, and scientific research. He also stated that the Africa trip this week would not be political.

Despite the fact that only Gabon and the Congo Republic were once French colonies, some people in Gabon’s city Libreville were skeptical of Macron’s intentions.

“What is Macron doing in Gabon? Is he coming for the forest or to back (President) Ali Bongo? ” asked 39 year old Kevin, a technician. 

We will rise up, he said, if Macron wants to support the Bongo family. “Gabon is an independent country. It is not France that appoints Gabonese presidents.”

In the meantime, hundreds of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) demonstrated in front of the French embassy in the country’s capital Kinshasa to oppose what they perceived to be France’s support for Rwanda, which Congo accuses of funding a rebel group. This is denied by Rwanda.

Thursday night is Macron’s flight to Angola, on Friday he will travel to the Congo Republic, and on Saturday he is scheduled for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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