French President François Hollande addressed some 40 African leaders as a key Franco-African security summit opened Friday in Paris, telling delegates that the continent must first "ensure its own security" so it can realise its "destiny".
French President François Hollande addressed some 40 African leaders as a Franco-African security summit opened Friday in Paris, telling delegates that the continent must "ensure its own security" in order to "take charge of its destiny".
Hollande also vowed to help with the creation of a special African rapid-reaction force that would train up to 20,000 soldiers each year.
"France is ready to lend its full support to this force" by helping with military training, Hollande said.
France still wields significant influence on the continent and is a major player in African security issues. Its intervention in Mali earlier this year and an ongoing expansion of operations in the Central African Republic are but two recent examples.
Hollande also said that the International Criminal Court was the right forum for addressing “serious crimes” when national legal systems fail.
“[For] the most serious crimes committed in Africa, and they have been committed – I'm thinking of violence against women, organised crime, mass killings – the guilty should be judged,” he said. “There is the International Criminal Court – it is its role to judge those acts when national justice systems do not have the capacity to do so. We need to have confidence in international law.”
The Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa – which focuses on security generally and an ongoing military mission in the Central African Republic more specifically – opened Friday morning, hours after news of the death of Nelson Mandela was made public.
Hollande kicked off the summit with a tribute to the iconic anti-apartheid leader, who died at his family home Thursday evening at age 95, and delegates observed a minute of silence in his honour.
Continue Mandela's work
South Africa’s Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane also spoke at the talks, urging African leaders to continue Mandela's work for peace as well as security.
Hollande highlighted that some African forces were already capable of leading operations, citing the African Union's current mission in Somalia.
"And at the same time, everyone knows that there are inadequacies, shortcomings, weaknesses – and there is a need to prepare African forces to respond to any threat and to be able to acquire essential means to ensure the security of Africans," Hollande said.
He added that Europe and Africa must stand together to fight global threats such as terrorism.
Speaking on Wednesday ahead of the security summit, Hollande called on France's business leaders to “double” their trade with Africa.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2013-12-06