News / Europe

Sarkozy Seeks Stronger French-African Ties

French President Nicolas Sarkozy heads Wednesday to Gabon and Rwanda in an effort to boost the French presence on the African continent and to seal renewed diplomatic ties with Kigali.

President Sarkozy has different goals for his visits to Gabon and Rwanda, two countries in which France has had long-standing, but bumpy, ties.  France's relationship to Gabon and to its deceased leader, Omar Bongo, have probably been its closest in sub-Saharan Africa.  But Paris was accused of meddling in disputed Gabonese elections last year that saw Mr. Bongo's son Ali elected president.

Gabon
Gabon

Sylvain Touati is coordinator for sub-Saharan Africa programs at the French Institute of International Relations in Paris.

"I think that President Sarkozy waited a few months before showing his support for the new regime of Ali Bongo in a country where France has a lot of interest, a lot of presence," said Touati.

Among other areas, Touati predicts President Sarkozy will announce France will maintain its military base in Gabon after saying last week it would pull out of Senegal.  France also has oil and mineral interests at stake.

Much media attention will be focused on President Sarkozy's next stop, Rwanda.  He will be the first French leader to visit Kigali since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

France and Rwanda broke off diplomatic relations for three years as they traded charges over responsibility for the massacre that killed about 800,000 people.  Ties were restored last November.

Sarkozy Seeks Stronger French-African Ties
Sarkozy Seeks Stronger French-African Ties

But Touati says it is too early to say France and Rwanda are turning the page.  Rather, he says, there are strategic interests at stake.

"It is really important for President Sarkozy to go to Rwanda because ... in this year he wants to organize a really important meeting about the situation in eastern Congo, a big conference on the Great Lakes region in general.  So ... he really needed to get peace with Rwanda," he said.

Mr. Sarkozy promised to establish a new relationship with Africa, to break from a past that critics said was based on cronyism and long-standing ties with despots.  Analysts like Touati says this has not happened. He says growing competition on the continent from China and other nations has made France realize it needs its old bonds.

"You have a lot of interest in Africa in general, and it is not the moment for France to cut all its network," said Touati.  "True, some of this network have a bad reputation.  They were involved in a lot of gray issues, a lot of corruption and stuff like that.  But they were one of the tools for French influence in the region," he concluded.

But Touati says France also needs to establish new ties with countries like Nigeria, where France does not have historic links.  He also says Mr. Sarkozy has yet to outline a coherent French policy in Africa, one accounting for its diverse economic, military and political interests on the continent.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs