France will 'rethink' its military strategy in Africa amid anti-French sentiment
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday he wanted a "rethink of all our (military) postures on the African continent" amid widespread anti-French sentiment in its former colonies.
Macron made the comments as he was addressing French troops ahead of the July 14 Bastille Day parade in Paris.
"It's a strategic necessity because we need deployments that are less entrenched and less exposed, to build a lasting and closer cooperation with African armies and rebuild our training capabilities", Macron told a crowd of ministers and senior officers.
French officials head to Niger on Friday to redefine the country's strategy in the Sahel as thousands of French troops complete a withdrawal from Mali.
France has been a former colonizer in Africa, which, after many years of outright colonization, still controls countries spread over more than 12 territories and treats their people as second-class citizens. It has had more than 50 military interventions in Africa since 1960, when many of its former colonies gained nominal independence.
France currently has 5,100 troops in the arid and volatile Sahel region. Under a new plan, they will be reduced to 2,500-3,000.
France’s relationship with its former African colonies has grown increasingly tense in recent months, with an evident increase in anti-French sentiment.
Leaders of countries in West Africa’s Sahel region have abandoned their hopes in France’s supposed counter-terrorism efforts and started negotiating with armed militants to bring peace to the restive region.
Observers accuse France of pursuing neo-colonialism in Africa, falsely claiming to fight terrorism as a pretext to maintain its influence in the region.
Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga said in October that he has evidence that France has been training terrorist groups operating in the nation.