Published: 2023-03-02 19:48
Last Updated: 2023-06-03 11:02
France's President Emmanuel Macron began a tour of Central Africa Wednesday in a diplomatic drive to test a new "responsible relationship" with the continent as anti-French sentiment runs high in some former colonies.
He landed in Gabon's capital Libreville Wednesday and will later head to Angola, Congo-Brazzaville and the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Macron's trip comes as alarm grows in Paris over Russia's rising influence in French-speaking African countries, joining China, which has been present in the region for some years.
Burkina Faso, according to official correspondence seen by AFP Wednesday, has told France it is renouncing a 1961 agreement that provided a legal basis for French military aid.
In a speech on France's Africa policy Monday, Macron called for a "mutual and responsible relationship" with the continent of more than 50 countries, including on climate issues.
He reiterated a pledge to break with former post-colonial policies.
"Our interest is first and foremost democracy," as well as economic partnerships, he said.
He also said the French military would reduce its footprint on the continent in the coming months, though a military source and analyst have said French army chiefs may be reluctant to do so.
More than 3,000 French soldiers are deployed in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Gabon and Djibouti, according to official figures.
Another 3,000 are in the Sahel region further north, including in Niger and Chad.