May 30, 2023

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At the Africa-France summit, Macron was challenged by African youth

Coming from across the continent, young Africans openly expressed their expectations and disappointments for democracy and their relationship with France, appealing directly to President Emmanuel Macron during the unprecedented summit in Montpellier (South).

Arriving late in the morning, Emmanuel Macron was the only chairman of this summit, not the chairman of this group, who went from round table to round table before a meeting scheduled for the afternoon. In a bid to reclaim the plundered works, at the end of October France announced that it would give Benin 26 works of art by Trocer de Behans, which had been looted at the Abomi Palace in 1892 during colonial rule. Wars.

It values ​​a commitment made in November 2018, within the framework of this “new relationship” that France wants to build with the continent and that its revenue is one of the key points.

During his march, the president was arrested on several occasions. “I can no longer see African youth dying in the Mediterranean” To reach Europe, a woman began.

After the overthrow of President Alpha Conte in September, a young Guinean urged him to “support the Guinean change,” in which Mr. Macron admitted that “the third time was not right.”

– Expectations and Disappointments –

This Africa-France summit sought to lay the groundwork for civil society and, for the first time since 1973, excluded continental leaders.

People from Burkina Faso, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco … Young guests had a lot to say to France about colonial tradition, visa policy or development assistance. Since the beginning of the summit, about 3,000 people have been invited, and the round table “Citizens’ Involvement and Democracy” has attracted many spectators and speakers.

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“We hope Montpellier will be a fresh start. The African ground, we listen to African youth, they have things to say to the world and to France,” said Bakari Sambe, director of Thimphu.

Referring to Paris’s recent decision to drastically reduce the number of visas for Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians, Mehdi Aliouwa, a professor of political science in Rabat, denounced a “collective punishment” and applauded the visa system for “insulting (and) harassing the system”.

The most important concern is the issue of the movement of African youth who do not see the fulfillment of the promises of President Emmanuel Macron.

Another much-discussed issue was the state of democracy on the African continent and the “French interference”.

– Compression –

Habiba Issa Massa, a young student at Ix-Marseille University of Nigerian descent, lamented, “We are caught between a vile Western discourse that seeks to educate Africans and our governments’ assertion that Westerners want to impose their values.”

“The essential questions here are not entrepreneurship or sport – as widely mentioned at the Montpellier Summit, note – this is politics!” “For its part, Burkina Faso started Sibila Saminado Oitroko, who criticized Africa’s” pro-relationship “with France.

In the afternoon, President Macron was to discuss with a group of twelve young African women, who were selected at the end of months of dialogue across the continent by the Cameroonian intellectual in charge of preparing for the summit.

“I really want to believe it,” David Menda Kitoko, a political refugee for the DRC in France, told AFP. “But I have a lot of doubts. There are many big words on the one hand about the relationship between France and Africa, and on the other hand, the lack of courage,” lamented the young activist.

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At the end of the summit, the French president, a candidate for re-election in seven months, may make other announcements based on the proposals of the Axis embassy. Among them, the creation of a fund that supports efforts to promote democracy, programs that allow greater student migration, or the “Euro-African Forum” relocation.

All in a particularly subtle environment. France’s influence is highly controversial in its former region, especially Russia. And Paris is in open crisis with its former colonies of Mali and Algeria.