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France

Hollande hails ‘new chapter’ between France and Africa

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-10-12

In a much-awaited speech in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, French President François Hollande said it was time for new, “sincere” relations between his country and the fast-growing economies of Africa.

President François Hollande said Friday that it was time for France and Africa to “write a new chapter” in diplomatic and economic ties during a much-awaited speech to the Senegalese parliament.

“I didn’t come to Africa to give an example, or to give moral lessons. I consider Africans to be partners and friends. Friendship brings responsibilities, the first among them being sincere. We should speak freely to each other, without meddling but with exigency,” Hollande told lawmakers at the start of his first tour of Africa, which will also take him to the Democratic Republic of Congo over the weekend.

The French president’s remarks in the capital of Dakar echoed his own statements on the eve of his departure. In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 on Thursday, Hollande said France would contribute logistical support to military operations in northern Mali, but that it was up to Africa to take the lead in the fight against Islamist rebels in that region.

Senegal’s example

To rousing applause, Hollande said Senegal was an example for Africa to follow, citing the country’s three successive and relatively peaceful transitions of power since 1980.

He also emphasized the prominent role Africa had to play in the world. “I want to express my confidence not only in the future of Senegal but also in the future of Africa,” Hollande said.

“Africa is a great continent that is now ready to become a great emerging continent,” he added later.

End of ‘Françafrique’

Hollande said it was time to bid farewell to Françafrique, a term used to describe the secretive use of political and economic influence between elites in France and former African colonies since the 1960s.

He said both the French parliament and the Senegalese parliament would soon ratify a defense treaty between the two countries, but that the agreement would not have any “hidden clauses”.

The speech was intended to mark a clean break from the policies of Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who said in a controversial speech in Dakar five years ago that the African man “has not fully entered history (...) never really launched himself into the future.”

Sarkozy’s speech, which was viewed as insulting by many on the continent, had prompted part of the audience to walk out in protest.

Date created : 2012-10-12

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