Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Did the left-wing inflate turnout figures in round one of the primary?

Read more

ACROSS AFRICA

Dozens killed in attack on military camp in Mali

Read more

THE DEBATE

Splintered left: French Socialists divided ahead of primary run-off (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Splintered left: Are Europe's Social Democrats obsolete? (part 2)

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Gambia: New president says Jammeh has agreed to cede power

Read more

ACROSS AFRICA

France finally grants Senegalese vets citizenship

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Pollution threatens island paradise of Mauritius, and one Cameroonian expat's quest to bring safe drinking water to his country

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Publicis boss encourages firms to move staff to Paris post-Brexit

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Fake news has had almost no impact on Wikipedia'

Read more

France

Elysée lunch for heads of former French colonies draws criticism

Text by Guillaume GUGUEN

Latest update : 2010-07-13

The invitation of 12 leaders of former French colonies in Africa to a lunch at the Elysée Palace on the eve of the July 14 celebrations has led to accusations that France has failed to move on from its post-colonial relationship with the continent.

The attendance of a dozen leaders of France’s former African colonies* at the Elysée Palace for lunch with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the eve of the 14 July celebrations has disappointed progressives hoping for a change in France’s relationship with Africa.

On July 14 itself, soldiers from these countries will march down the Champs Elysees in Paris for the traditional “Bastille Day” parade.

The involvement of former colonies in France’s national day marks 50 years since they gained independence; Sarkozy insists that their participation has nothing to do with “colonial nostalgia”.

Sarkozy has also announced that all former colonial combatants (about 30,000) who served France in past conflicts will receive pensions in line with their French counterparts, no matter where they live.

Exclusive relationship

However, the invitation is controversial and has been criticised as a return to a post-colonial relationship between France and its old African colonies – “La Françafrique” – that progressives hoped to have seen the back of.

The exclusivity of the “Françafrique” approach, they argue, does little or nothing to encourage the development of democracy in these countries.

French association “Survie” (Survival), which lobbies for the redrawing of the French-African relationship, said it was shocked by the lunch invitation, which spokesman Olivier Thimonier said harked back to the bad old days.

“Nothing has changed,” he said. “France is still just looking after its own interests without trying to encourage real democracy in these countries.”

“Survie” is not the only voice of dissent. François Hollande, former leader of the opposition Socialist Party, said: “We’re back in the politics of networks, of displays of collusion.”

Pointing out that France’s Minister for Cooperation [effectively for Africa] Alain Joyandet was recently sacked and not replaced, he added: “What’s worse is that France’s African policy is now completely in the hands of the Elysée Palace and the president’s immediate entourage.”

* Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritiania, Niger, Senegal, Chad, Togo.
 

Date created : 2010-07-13

  • FRANCE-AFRICA SUMMIT

    Sarkozy charts new course for Franco-African relations

    Read more

  • FRANCE-AFRICA SUMMIT

    Sarkozy to push for expanded African role at UN

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Sarkozy seeks fresh start and better trade at Africa summit

    Read more

COMMENT(S)