President Emmanuel Macron has said the age of French meddling in Africa was “well over” as he launched a four-nation trip of the continent to repair frayed relations.
With Russian and Chinese influence expanding in the area, the continent has once again become a diplomatic battleground, and anti-French sentiment is at an all-time high in some former French colonies.
During an environment summit in Gabon, the first stop on his tour, Macron said France has no wish to resume its previous practices of meddling in Africa.
“The age of Francafrique is well over,” Macron said in remarks to the French community in the capital Libreville, referring to France’s post-colonization strategy of supporting authoritarian leaders to defend its interests.
“Sometimes, I get the feeling that mindsets haven’t moved along as much as we have, when I read, hear and see people ascribing intentions to France that it doesn’t have,” he added.
Pan-Africanists frequently point the finger at “Francafrique,” asserting that following the wave of decolonization in 1960, France supported dictators in its former colonies in exchange for access to resources and military bases.
The strategy is no longer in effect, and according to Macron and his predecessors, most notably Francois Hollande, France has no intention of interfering in other countries’ sovereign affairs.