French President Emmanuel Macron during his first African tour, has said he will reset France’s relations with its former colonies in Africa.
Macron’s first African tour takes him to Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, two former French colonies that deposed strongmen leaders in recent years, as well as to Ghana.
Speaking in Burkina Faso, the French president vowed that Paris would not attempt to meddle in local politics — reversing a long history of intervention known as Françafrique. “I am from a generation that doesn’t tell Africans what to do.”
“I haven’t come here to tell you what is France’s African policy because there no longer is one, there is only a continent that we need to look straight in the face,” Mr Macron said. “The crimes of European colonisation are unquestionable . . . It’s a past that needs to pass.”
The 39-year-old French leader was by turns relaxed and combative as he talked for two hours at a university in Ouagadougou, drawing attention to the fact that he also represented a generational shift from the colonial era.
“I am from a generation that hails Nelson Mandela’s victory over apartheid as one of its fondest political memories. That’s the history of our generation,” he told students.
His speech made references to African nationalists such as Nelson Mandela and Burkina’s revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara, Macron promised a break with a past in which France often seemed to call the shots to former colonies.
Emmanuel Macrons views on Colonisation
Before he was made president, the French independent presidential candidate; Emmanuel Macron described colonization as a “crime against humanity” during a visit to Algeria in February.
In an interview in Algiers with private owned TV Echourouk News, Macron said that colonisation was “genuinely barbaric, and constitutes a part of our past that we have to confront by also apologising to those against whom we committed these acts”.
“France had installed Human rights in Algeria but has simply forgotten to read them”, he added.
Macron’s comments sparked outrage among conservative and far-right parties in France, which has never officially apologised for its 132-year colonisation of Algeria.
Nearly 55 years after Algerian independence in 1962, France’s colonial history remains a highly sensitive subject. The closest a French leader has ever come to issuing a formal apology was in 2012, when President François Hollande acknowledged his country’s “unjust and brutal” occupation.
Algerian officials have estimated that the country’s eight-year war for independence claimed 1.5 million Algerian lives, while French historians say that around 400,000 people were killed on both sides.