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West Africa: Hollande's Franco-African Farewell

Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Friday, 13 January 2017

West Africa: Hollande's Franco-African Farewell

This weekend President Hollande attends his last Africa-France summit. On taking office, he pledged to break with 'Francafrique' but almost five years later the French footprint in Africa appears undiminished. Some 10,000 security personnel have been seconded to the Malian capital Bamako for the 27th Africa-France summit and they are backed up by the Malian army and French troops. Mali is a tense country. "Clearly, with such a large number of high-ranking guests, security is paramount," Cheickna Hamala Diarra from the Bamako-based summit organizing committee told DW. This weekend Bamako plays host to French President Francois Hollande, 53 African heads of state and their respective delegations. A total of 3,000 delegates are expected to attend the biennial meeting. It will be an opportunity for Hollande to bid farewell to his African counterparts as this will be his last Africa-France summit. The French leader steps down later in the year; he will not seek a second term at the presidential elections in the spring. This summit towards the end of his five-year term sees his return to a country which had a decisive impact on French foreign policy during his tenure. In January 2013, France's military launched Operation Serval against jihadists in Mali. In December of the same year, France embarked on a military campaign in Central African Republic (CAR), which was teetering on the brink of civil war in the wake of a coup. That French military campaign is now over. Operation Serval has since been replaced by Operation Barkhane, a broader offensive against Islamist groups with some 3,000 French soldiers deployed in five African countries. Gabon-based political scientist Ndoutoume Ngom told DW he views Hollande's policy towards Africa in a positive light. "He stopped Mali from disintegrating. CAR was also stabilized somewhat through the French military intervention," he said.

Source: http://allafrica.com/