In the Sahel, France faces mistrust from the populations. Until now discreet, certain European partners of Paris are beginning to criticize the ineffectiveness of its policy in Africa.
In an editorial published at the beginning of this year, Luc de Barochez, editor-in-chief of the Monde du Point service, justified the reasons why Africa is pushing back France.
“If the former colonial power gives the impression of being tossed by events in Africa, it is because it did not appreciate the changing times there in time,” he writes.
Taking stock of this unpopularity, liberal German MP Christoph Hoffmann believes that Europeans must speak together, rather than letting Paris take positions alone, which will often be poorly received in sub-Saharan Africa.
“It’s better if European states react together. Because France’s role is a little complicated in West Africa,” he told DW. “But, if European states say together, for example, that it was an election that was manipulated in Gabon, that was not democratic, that will have more resonance than if France said it alone,” underlines Christoph Hoffmann.
Multiplication of errors
French diplomacy is at a historically low level, says Roland Marchal, researcher at the CNRS. According to him, the multiplication of France’s errors in its former colonies has amplified Francophobic sentiment. Can the European Union fix this? Roland Marchal believes that “Italy, for example, plays an important role in Niger with the forces positioned. Obviously, the European Union provided extremely generous funding in all the Sahelian countries, starting with Mali which does a lot of efforts to forget it. The problem of the EU is that it has many difficulties which are due to the nature of its institutions. It must be more than the sum of its components, in this case France and its rivals within the EU, on the definition of an African policy.”
For his part, Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg Minister of Foreign Affairs, considers that the multiplication of military coups in sub-Saharan Africa constitutes a failure of Brussels’ policy in Africa.
“We need to thoroughly review our policy,” confirms Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Researcher Roland Marchal maintains that certain partners of France, such as Italy or Germany, which are beginning to play an important role in the Sahel, could make it possible to partly replace a discredited France.
This article is originally published on dw.com