sarkozy and africa Essay

Submitted By leilasamadi
Words: 2564
Pages: 11

"Gabon without France is like a car with no driver. France without Gabon is like a car with no fuel...” 1 This is one of many statements that symbolises France and Africa’s continued strong relations to each other in the post-colonial era. The colonial era saw parts of Africa as key to Frances greatness and significance as a power. However, scandalous events occurred throughout and it is clear that this notion has never truly been left behind. Although the post colonial era in Black Africa brought a somewhat peaceful independence, it has long been shadowed by scandal in France. Each president has strived to make their mark, with Africa being a popular subject during elections. Some leaders have promised to break their strong ties with la France-Afrique, but this has been a gradual and some might say ineffective process. Over the past 40 years France has developed trustworthy relations with her European neighbours but nothing like this has ever been developed with Africa2 . Around 50 years after decolonisation France wanted to break off devoted, privileged ties with her former colonies.

In essence la France-Afrique is a term that was first used in a positive light by President of the Côte d'Ivoire, Félix Houphouët-Boigny . A man often referred to as ‘amis de la france’. In essence it refers to France’s relationship with Africa. However, now it is often used in a pejorative sense, expressing Frances official, and in particular, unofficial affairs with Africa; characterized by neo-colonialism and lack of transparency. It is this notion of France-Afrique which Sarkozy has wanted to break away from. 3

De Gaulle made it clear that he believed Africa was key in maintaining Frances’ ‘grandeur’ and this has led to the formation of often dubious family like ties. For example Franco-African summits ‘instituted in 1973’, unites the French president with African and French political leaders in an annual celebration of their ‘special relationship’, these have been viewed more as family reunions with ‘no final communiqué’.4Mitterrand, Chirac and Jospin have all made wide-ranging promises to cut off ties with Africa, however Sarkozy went further than his predecessors. This essay will be divided into 3 sections. Firstly we will tackle the subject of how Nicolas Sarkozy promised to go further than any of his predecessors in reforming France’s Africa policy while using some examples of previous official’s pledges towards policy. Followed by an analysis of why he made such promises and to what extent he carried them out. Ending on what prevented him from going any further down a road to reform?

After the nineties Frances attitude towards Africa changed, it brought about the breakdown of the ‘Gaullist consensus’ which had been the pillars of French African policy and thus of ‘la Françe-Afrique’5 . Political ‘cohabitation’ led to political tension and fragmented ideas of what was best for policy in Africa. Pledges were rarely fulfilled, most of them only being carried out in part. Mitterand made a plethora of promises in the battle for electoral votes. His election was largely due to his 110 propositions for France, in which he promised many changes that were consequently not seen to or even completely contradicted, such as applying aid to the whole of developing world and a cessation on military intervention. The only real significant change in policy came from his 1990 speech in La Baule at the Franco African summit, pledging that ‘French aid would henceforth be distributed as a priority to countries making progress towards democratisation’6

.It was Mitterand’s Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur who went a little further. By1994 he had pushed French government for a 50% devaluation of the CFA franc, which was ‘tied to the French franc at a fixed rate since 1948’7 . This went alongside the ‘Abidijan doctrine’, stipulating that good economic governance would act as a prerequisite for budgetary aid. Essentially this