Browsing: France

Ambassador Omar Arouna. He says that Benin President Patrice Talon wants to change the country’s laws enabling him to remain in power indefinitely.

The opposition was excluded, the army shot protesters in the post-electoral uprise, and according to Amnesty, at least 5 people were killed during the last election, and several hundred were arrested or exiled.  Since then, nothing has changed.  Repressive laws and regulations that excluded opposition from the past elections are still in place, and opposition leaders are still in prison; a crackdown on dissenting voices is still occurring, except now Talon has blackmailed, corrupted and coerced local politicians into participating in the 2023 election to legitimize his electoral holdup.

Therefore, his August 30th declaration before the Business community in France in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, is not an accident but by design and should be taken seriously because back home, Talon had already started the process of changing the country’s constitution after January 2023.

The January 2023 legislative elections represent another major challenge for the country but an opportunity for Patrice Talon and if he gets his way, 2023 will toll the bell on Benin’s democratic adventure forever. Patrice Talon is now manoeuvring to secure a third term in office and will leverage the upcoming legislative electoral process to do it. And the tell-tale signs are here.

Along with his diplomatic efforts, the future French President loved the country’s rich culture and has previously danced in public to the music of Fela Kuti, Nigeria’s legendary performer.

Even before his famous Ouagadougou speech, Macron established the Presidential Council for Africa, which comprised African and French representatives from fields such as entrepreneurship, health, sustainable development, sport, and culture to advise him on general issues confronting the continent.

Emmanuel Macron did not hesitate when he was first elected President of France to recognize that France has genuine interests in Africa, which he wanted to pursue through a partner-based strategy based on transparency and reciprocity.

The Presidential Council for Africa (PCA), founded by President Emmanuel Macron in 2017, is driving this project. Its coordinator, Wilfrid Lauriano do Rego, told RFI that each student’s case will be examined separately.

“Each student presents a different case depending on whether they would like to continue studying in France or not and whether French universities can take them. And we also need to liaise with the French authorities to make this project feasible,” he said.

The initiative is not limited to francophone students but is open to anglophone students too, depending on how fluent they are in French. The project concerns all university courses but may be limited to what is on offer within the French universities participating in this initiative.

“It will also depend on what kind, of course, they are following and the decisions of the French universities giving these courses on the matter,” he said.

Three hundred African students have, so far, enrolled in the PCA’s initiative. Lauriano do Rego said that he doesn’t know, at present, if they can accommodate more students as it depends on the student’s achievements.

While in France, President Samia attended the One Ocean Summit in Brest. The three-day summit discusses ocean safety and actions against the threats to the ocean. Among other things, initiatives launched at the summit aim to protect the marine ecosystem and develop sustainable fisheries.

The initiatives seek to fight pollution particularly from plastics as well as to respond to the impacts of climate change and to advocate for improved governance of oceans.

This State Visit follows last year’s visit to Tanzania by French Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, Franck Riester, who visited the East African economic hub in October  2021.

By 2022, France plans to reduce and move its troops and will be restricted to regions that are not strategic for combating terrorism, which indicates that they will probably only act in the security of specific points, such as diplomatic and international organizations facilities.

That ends the so-called “Operation Barkhane”, which was a military mission marked by a tactic of permanent occupation of the Sahel countries by French troops.

The French government, however, apparently will try to reorganize its strategy in Africa. It seems that the focus of action will turn to the Gulf of Guinea.