French President Macron begins travel to Africa in a position of weakness
French President Emmanuel Macron began a five-day trip to Africa on Wednesday, a continent that is increasingly resistant to one-time colonial powers playing a role in its affairs.
Macron is set to visit Gabon, Angola, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in what will be his 18th trip to Africa since he took office in 2017.
He is travelling with the promise of a so-called “partnership of equals” approach to the continent.
But as well as the rising tensions between France and the countries of its former sphere of influence, Paris faces competition from new rivals China and Russia, a trend that has only intensified since the Ukraine war.
Macron’s trip comes amid rising anti-French sentiment and diminishing influence on the continent.
France recently ended its decade-long Operation Barkhane, a military intervention to supposedly fight terrorists in the Sahel region.
“Macron is going to Africa this time in a position of weakness,” said Antoine Glaser, a longtime observer of France and Africa.
“Russian influence on the continent is rising, France is on the defensive after the end of Barkhane and French companies are losing market share,” he said.
Observers accuse France of pursuing neo-colonialism in
Africa, falsely claiming to fight terrorism as a pretext to maintain its
influence in the region.