‘Act urgently’: French lawmakers call for new Africa approachWed, 08 Nov 2023 12:47:27 GMT

France must “act urgently” and conduct reforms to restore its ties with Africa as Russia and China’s influence is rising on the continent, according to a parliamentary report published on Wednesday.The report was issued amid growing alarm in Paris over strong anti-French sentiment in some former colonies.Penned by Bruno Fuchs of the centre-right Democratic Movement party and Michele Tabarot of the right-wing Republicans party, it said that France was struggling to “adapt” to change in Africa.Africans, the report says, “are demanding a different policy from France.””We must act urgently to avoid a risk of contagion and loss of trust.”The 170-page report was released after months of work that included dozens of interviews with African and French politicians, military personnel, representatives of civil society and journalists.”Eager to renew its ties with Africa and avoid mistakes of the past, deprived of detailed knowledge of the continent and dependent on uncertain political choices, (France) now refuses to adopt a genuine ‘African policy’,” lamented the authors. France has ended anti-jihadist military missions in Mali and Burkina Faso and more recently began to withdraw its 1,400-strong contingent from Niger after the ouster of president Mohamed Bazoum, a key ally of Paris.In all three countries, Paris was pushed out by military regimes that came to power after coups. In Mali, Bamako’s junta leaders struck up a partnership with Russian mercenary group Wagner.French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly spoken of making a historic change to France’s post-colonial imprint in Africa, by abandoning any notion of the so-called strategy Francafrique where Paris sought to keep francophone Africa under its thumb.”Francafrique is dead,” he proclaimed in September.But Paris has often been criticised for its inconsistent approach to ties with Africa.While France condemned the coup in Niger this year, Paris endorsed Mahamat Idriss Deby, who came to power in Chad without a constitutional process in 2021 following the assassination of his father.The report called for a “strategic” new approach that would prompt African countries to seek “nurtured, more egalitarian ties with France”.According to the authors, a “change of style” was necessary.France, they said, should adopt “a humble posture” and “stop making grand speeches which often raise expectations” but end in disappointment.They also proposed to overhaul France’s system of public aid and provide more donations and fewer loans and end “inconsistencies” in its visa policy.