Eyeing rekindling France's power in Africa, Macron on four-nation trip
French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to give more details about the future of the French military presence in Africa.
French President Emmanuel Macron is to outline in a speech and press conference at the Elysee palace on Monday his country's new strategy for Africa, where anti-French sentiment is running high in some of its former colonies.
Macron is to visit Gabon for an environmental summit, followed by Angola, then the Republic of Congo, and finally the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
The French leader has insisted that Africa is a priority of his second mandate in power, and in July, he undertook a trip to Cameroon, Benin, and Guinea-Bissau.
Macron, who was re-elected last year, is set to unveil on Monday "his priorities and his method to deepen the partnership between France, Europe and the African continent," the presidential office has indicated.
His speech at the presidential palace comes two days ahead of a four-nation tour of central African countries, as Paris seeks to counter what it sees as growing Chinese and Russian influence in the region.
His address follows a 2017 speech to students at a university in Burkina Faso in which he pledged to break away from his country's former post-colonial policies on the continent of more than 50 countries.
Back then, Macron criticized "the crimes of European colonization" and called for a "truly new relationship" between Africa and Europe.
But much has changed in Burkina Faso and the wider Sahel region since. Alarm has grown in Paris over Russia's "growing influence" in French-speaking African countries, alongside an alleged Chinese push for influence that has been apparent for some years.
France and its Western allies accuse the Russian military company Wagner of allegedly being active in Mali and the Central African Republic -- ruled by France in the colonial era.
In his coming speech, Macron is expected to give more details about the future of the French military presence on the continent, especially after French forces withdrew from Burkina Faso after the West African nation ended -- following months of protests and demands by the Burkinabe people -- a military agreement that allowed France to fight insurgents there, which proved to be fruitless.
France still has thousands of troops in the region, including in Niger and Chad, but is seeking to redeploy some toward the Gulf of Guinea.
Read more: Burkina Faso booting French troops leaves Macron 'greatly confused'
Abstentions on Ukraine war
The French President is also to reiterate the need to boost ties in the wake of the Ukraine war.
"Faced with strategic threats -- the war in Ukraine as well as economic and pandemic shocks -- it is crucial that Europe and Africa be as aligned and as close as possible in their dialogue," a French presidential advisor told AFP, asking not to be named.
Macron has repeatedly urged countries of the Global South to condemn the war in Ukraine. But when the United Nations on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to demand Russia immediately withdraw its troops from its pro-Western neighbor, three of the four countries Macron is visiting this week -- Gabon, Angola, and the Republic of Congo -- abstained alongside China and India.
Macron will arrive in Gabon, a former French colony, on Wednesday to attend the One Forest Summit on preserving forests. He will then head to the former Portuguese colony of Angola as part of a drive to enhance French ties with English- and Portuguese-speaking parts of Africa.
After the Republic of Congo, another former French colony, he will end his trip in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo -- ruled by Belgium during the colonial era -- on Friday and Saturday.
Read more: Macron to visit China in early April to discuss Ukraine war