France's Double Standard Policy Hits Reputation in Africa: Report
12:41 09.11.2023 (Updated: 16:09 09.11.2023)
The 170-page paper on French relations in Africa was delivered at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly and reportedly stemmed from months of discussions with foreign leaders, diplomats and military officials in France and Francophone Africa.
France's ambivalent policies in Africa, as well as its penchant for solving problems militarily
rather than diplomatically, have seriously damaged Paris' reputation in Africa, concluded a report presented at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly.
The report added that France must now change its approach, or opposition to its policies will continue to spread across the continent.
"Eager to renew its ties with Africa and avoid mistakes of the past, deprived of detailed knowledge of the continent and dependent on uncertain political choices, [France] now refuses to adopt a genuine 'African policy'," French media quoted an excerpt from the report.
The authors of the document - deputies of the center-right Democratic Movement party and Michele Tabarot of the right-wing Republicans party - believe that the statements of the French authorities on Africa are often not properly perceived
on the continent.
While Paris publicly condemned the military coups in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, French President Emmanuel Macron's presence at the funeral of former Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno in 2021 effectively legitimized the transfer of power by succession within the presidential family, the parliamentarians believe.
"If we do not put an end to this policy of double standards, we will continue to feed skepticism and rejection, to fuel fantasies of hidden French agendas," read an excerpt from the document cited by another French media outlet.
The authors of the paper advocated an "honest distancing" from African countries' domestic political issues, while maintaining
a public stance on commitment to the rule of law and democracy.
The report also called for the creation of a special Africa section in the French Foreign Ministry, staffed by people who "truly understand Africa."
The authors of the paper also advocated the appointment of French ambassadors to African countries mainly from the African diaspora. According to the parliamentarians, after the start of the military operation in Mali, France "suffered from the superiority of the armed forces to the detriment of diplomacy."
The activities of the French Development Agency were also criticized, with its effectiveness described as "questionable." Between 2020 and 2022, the agency has allocated €15.5 billion to African nations in the form of loans or donations
, but the inhabitants of these countries do not actually see the funds transferred, "either because the money does not reach them or because the agency is not able to promote its projects," according to the deputies.
They also slammed the fact that development programs allocate nearly 30% of funds to large infrastructure projects, while "Africans need investment in education and small projects" that can be implemented in a short time and with more visible results.
Another problem in Franco-African relations is the visa policy, which is considered "humiliating" by African elites. In particular, the problem concerns the regular refusal of visas, including to high-ranking politicians, such as Cavaye Yeguie Djibril, the vice-president of the National Assembly of Cameroon, who was unable to attend a conference of French-speaking countries because of visa refusal.
Finally, the deputies pointed to repeated communication failures related to lame remarks by French leaders, such as Nicolas Sarkozy's words that "the African man has not entered history enough."
The authors of the report also recalled Macron's jokes at an event with the president of Burkina Faso at the University of Ouagadougou about the African leader getting up from his seat to "leave to fix the air-conditioning."
In this regard, the parliamentarians noted that Paris should "abandon loud speeches in favor of concrete actions."