TOP News

World: Macron's blunt style may harm bid for new African chapter

Rwanda. The opposition denounces the silence of Emmanuel Macron on human rights

 Rwanda. The opposition denounces the silence of Emmanuel Macron on human rights © Thibault Camus / EPA / Maxppp Emmanuel Macron, May 21, 2021 in Nevers. Two figures of the opposition denounce, in a statement, the silence of the French President on the issue of human rights in their country, two days before an official visit of Emmanuel Macron to Rwanda.

French President Emmanuel Macron has once again resorted to outspoken language as a tool of diplomatic strategy, this time targeting the president of the Central African Republic (CAR).

a man wearing a suit and tie © AFP

He described Faustin-Archange Touadéra as a "hostage" of Wagner, a Russian military contractor that has been helping the CAR government fight rebels threatening to overrun the capital, Bangui.

Paris is also angered by the anti-French social media messages that emanate from sources close to Mr Touadéra, stirring up resentment against the former colonial power.

It was the intervention by French and African troops in 2013 that saved CAR from a potentially genocidal civil conflict and created the conditions for the democratic elections that brought Mr Touadéra to power in 2016.

Macron pays tribute to Nelson Mandela before leaving South Africa

 Macron pays tribute to Nelson Mandela before leaving South Africa © Ludovic Marin The French President Emmanuel Macron at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, in Johannesburg May 29, 2021 "A legacy to the immense humanity": the French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute Saturday to the first black African President, during a visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, before returning to France.

But the CAR now relies heavily on Russian military expertise and has also signed mining deals with Russia, allowing it to explore for gold, diamonds and uranium.

Uneasy about the lurch towards Moscow and angered by the anti-French rhetoric, Mr Macron has suspended budget support for the CAR government.

a group of people riding on the back of a truck: About 1.4 million people have been displaced by conflict in the CAR, the UN says © AFP About 1.4 million people have been displaced by conflict in the CAR, the UN says

Mr Macron also concluded that a blunt public warning was needed, through a now widely publicised 30 May interview with the Journal du Dimanche (JDD).

His outspoken words met with no direct response, although Mr Touadéra's government says its arrangement is with the Russian defence ministry rather than Wagner.

But the Central African head of state was not the only target of his plain speaking.

In the lot, Emmanuel Macron defends his assessment and elected the question of the presidential election

 In the lot, Emmanuel Macron defends his assessment and elected the question of the presidential election © AFP second day of "Tour de France of the Territories" for Emmanuel Macron. The head of state went on Thursday in Martel in the lot. He has given a variety of discussions with the inhabitants and was asked about his projects for the presidential election. In the microphone of Europe 1, some say skeptics, others conquered. Emmanuel Macron continues her "Tour de France of the territories" . Thursday, the head of state was in Martel, in the lot.

He warned Mali - where interim Vice-President Colonel Assimi Goïta has staged a fresh coup to depose the president and prime minister - that French troops deployed to help in the fight against militant Islamists could be pulled out if the West African state went down the path of Islamist radicalism.

The JDD interview was widely reported in Francophone media. Mr Macron certainly knows how to get attention.

While warning Mali's transitional leaders against cutting a soft deal with jihadists, his comments perhaps also sought to reassure voters back home that French troops in the Sahel region were not being asked to put their lives on the line in vain.

a person in a uniform standing in front of a building: France has more than 5,000 troops in Mali © AFP France has more than 5,000 troops in Mali

Mr Macron's style certainly contrasts with the clubby networking that used to characterise so much of the relationships between French presidents and African political élites - a sometimes complacent culture, summed up in the term Françafrique.

Emily Blunt reveals she drank whisky after filming A Quiet Place II

  Emily Blunt reveals she drank whisky after filming A Quiet Place II Emily Blunt has revealed that she used to drink whisky with her husband after they finished a day of filming for A Quiet Place II. The 38-year-old actress, who is married to John Krasinski, 41, said that having a drop of whiskey after a particularly tough day of filming helped to relax them both.Speaking to The Mirror, she said: 'We drink a lot of whisky. It's a way of unwinding and it takes the edge off.' © Provided by Daily Mail ( She said that after a day's work she could come home covered in mud and blood and that after a high-octane day, whisky was a safe option.

This tended to reinforce incumbent power rather than responding to wider demands for reform or social and economic development.

Macron's 'arrogant' style

Mr Macron has faced African issues head-on, and with a much greater degree of openness. He is not afraid to publicly make the case for change.

This can certainly produce results - as illustrated by a visit last week to Rwanda, where he made a straightforward admission of France's failings in the run-up to the 1994 genocide, in a gesture that aimed to lay the foundations for building a new relationship that moves forward from the bitterness left by past history.

a group of people in a room: French President Emmanuel Macron (L) visited the genocide memorial in Rwanda on 27 May © AFP French President Emmanuel Macron (L) visited the genocide memorial in Rwanda on 27 May

But his personalised style, with its direct language and occasional impatience with diplomatic protocol, is a high-wire act that can appear arrogant.

The four years of his presidential engagement with Africa have been marred by sporadic incidents of offence or high-handedness that fuel the always combustible sense of resentment towards France as a former colonial power, particularly among younger Africans.

macron slapped in the Drôme: what we know of the two people arrested

 macron slapped in the Drôme: what we know of the two people arrested video: Emmanuel macron slapped in the Drôme, two people arrested (dailymotion) © Copyright 2021, the obs while Emmanuel Macron came out of a hotel high school in Tain-lahermitage (Drôme) this Tuesday, June 8 and greeted the crowd who was waiting for him, a man took advantage of it to slack him shouting "Montjoie Saint-Denis", a cry of Royalist War.

Return of looted artefacts

But those four years have also been marked by a brave readiness to pro-actively tackle awkward issues and explore new ways of doing things.

Mr Macron has commissioned academics to write three independent reports researching French behaviour: during the bloody independence conflict in Algeria; the Rwanda genocide and the potential return to Africa of historical and cultural artefacts taken to France during the colonial era.

You may also be interested in:

  • Why the future of French is African
  • Macron doesn't get the impact of colonialism on Algeria
  • Why France is focused on fighting jihadists in Mali
  • A guide to Africa's 'looted treasures'

His blunt admission of French failure in Rwanda was based on the findings of the Vincent Duclert report, which has been published in full.

After receiving historian Benjamin Stora's report on Algeria in January, the French president said he would launch a series of initiatives based on its recommendations, a number of which would be organised by a Truth and Memory commission headed by Prof Stora.

Critics feel that Mr Macron has not fully grasped what is required, but the implementation of recommendations in partnership with Algeria may be hampered by the North African state's current internal political difficulties.

Fan of the Middle Ages, subscriber to extreme right accounts ... what we know about Damien T., the one who slapped Macron

 Fan of the Middle Ages, subscriber to extreme right accounts ... what we know about Damien T., the one who slapped Macron © Copyright 2021, the Obs describes by his entourage as a person without history Damien T. posters on social networks his passion for martial arts and medieval history. It also follows many profiles of extreme right or royalist movement, although it is described as "apolitics" by a friend. In a few seconds, he became the man who slapped the President of Republic. Damien T., 28, was arrested Tuesday, June 8, after assisting a slap in Emmanuel Macron in Tain-lathermitage (Drôme).

The restitution of cultural artefacts has already begun, with a sword handed over to Senegal and the crown from a royal dais returned to Madagascar, while arrangements are under way for the return of 26 items to Benin.

a group of people wearing costumes: Senegal's President Macky Sall (R) called the return of the sword on 17 November 2019 a © AFP Senegal's President Macky Sall (R) called the return of the sword on 17 November 2019 a "historic day"

But beyond these cultural and symbolic gestures, Mr Macron is trying to strike a difficult balance, and one that would face any French president in 2021.

Paris policymakers believe that Africa is a continent of huge importance, a near neighbour to Europe with fast-growing populations and economies but facing deep development challenges.

Tension over 'colonial' currency

France, and indeed the European Union, should therefore remain heavily engaged - through political relationships, development assistance rising to 0.55% of gross national income in 2022 and a continued military presence, particularly to tackle militant groups and support efforts to stabilise the Sahel - a semi-arid stretch of land just south of the Sahara Desert which includes Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

But the very scale of this engagement can also leave Paris exposed to accusations of post-colonial interference.

This is well illustrated by efforts to reform the CFA franc, a currency used by 14 countries that is pegged to the euro under a French government guarantee - an arrangement that keeps inflation low but constrains monetary independence.

a person holding a sign: Many young people in Africa want to scrap the CFA franc, and its ties to France © Getty Images Many young people in Africa want to scrap the CFA franc, and its ties to France

Back in 2017 Mr Macron said that if West African governments chose to reform the currency, his country would support them. A limited first stage relaxation of French control was announced in December 2019.

Brisbane Takes One Step Closer To Hosting 2032 Summer Olympic And Paralympic Games

  Brisbane Takes One Step Closer To Hosting 2032 Summer Olympic And Paralympic Games Brisbane Takes One Step Closer To Hosting 2032 Summer Olympic And Paralympic Games . Earlier this year, it was confirmed that Brisbane 2032 was the preferred bid for the Games by the IOC. Targeted dialogue took place between the IOC and the AOC as further work went into ensuring the feasibility of Brisbane's bid and that it ticked all of the IOC's required boxes. The Games are set to be spread across Queensland with Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast all used as hosts for the various events and travelling athletes, media and dignitaries set to descend on Australia for the Games.

But popular and intellectual demands for more far-reaching change persist and France continues to be accused of seeking to maintain indirect control - even though, in reality, the further reform depends on overcoming serious technical challenges, and political differences among West African governments.

In the Sahel some critics accuse Paris of keeping troops deployed to protect its economic interests. France is indeed heavily invested in Niger's uranium mining - but the lucrative Sahelian gold mining sector is actually dominated by Canadian, Russian, Australian and British companies.

Mr Macron has tried to change the tone of French relationships with Africa. But there is deep resentment and mistrust to be overcome and the choice of language is crucial. Striking that right note is never easy.

When he spoke at the funeral of Chad's late President Idriss Déby in April, Mr Macron's declaration of support for the country's stability and territorial integrity were widely interpreted as backing for the new junta headed by Déby's son Mahamat.

Yet in fact he had also called for inclusiveness, dialogue and a democratic transition - points that went much less remarked.

  Macron's blunt style may harm bid for new African chapter © BBC

Paul Melly is a Consulting Fellow with the Africa Programme at Chatham House in London.

Prime Macron: Members correct a hole in the .
racket © Nicolas Sandanassamy Prime Macron: MPs correct a hole in the racket An amendment to the PLFR 2021, adopted by the National Assembly this Friday, gives the possibility to certain Small businesses to pour up to 2,000 euros of prime macron to their employees. The macron premium soon improved.

See also