France will renegotiate all its military agreements with African countries, President Nicolas Sarkozy said during his visit to South Africa. The move could alter French military aid for some of its close allies. (Report: C.Norris-Trent)
Right from his first day in South Africa, French President Nicolas Sarkozy attacked one of the pillars of “FrancoAfrica” by announcing a change in France’s current military presence in Africa.
In line with his will to break with his predecessors, he expressed his desire to see France reacting, not alone but with the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU). “I think that times are changing and France doesn’t need to play policeman in Africa, that’s the role of the African Union and regional African organizations”, Sarkozy said.
The review announced by the president, which targets the Mission Recamp - the African Peacekeeping Reinforcement Program launched by Chirac eight years ago, should come into effect with the closure of a number of military bases and cut backs of 9 000 or so soldiers that currently are deployed on the continent.
The Abidjan, the general area with 900 men from the 43rd Infantry Marine Battalion and that of the Licorne forces should serve as an example. Paris recently announced that the numbers of this Licorne contingent would be reduced from 2 400 to 1 800 soldiers. The future of other permanent bases in Senegal, Gabon and Djibouti is still being examined.
Since the 1960s, a time when Paris signed discreet defense agreements with its ex-colonies, there has been a French military presence on the African continent, with tens of thousands of military people, based at five sites, which hasn’t changed much since. From now on Nicolas Sarkozy wants “France to be present in Africa in a different way.”
For this to happen he expects to “renegotiate all military accords that France has with Africa” which has often justified controversial French military interventions.
Another significant change is related “to transparency concerns raised by the president who announced that he would include French parliament in African politics” said France 24 International Relations specialist Jean-Bernard Cadier from Cape Town. This was until recently “a domain reserved for the head of state.”
Date created : 2008-02-28