As Anti-France sentiments increasing grow in Africa, especially in French-speaking West Africa Countries, Emmanual Macron on Wednesday demanded West African leaders clarify their position on French troops in the Sahel. He also demanded that they dismiss growing anti-French sentiment across the region if they wanted France’s military to continue its operations against Islamist militants.

“I want them (leaders of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania) to clarify and formalize their demands regarding France and the international community: do they want our presence and do they need it? I want clear answers to these questions,” he said at a news conference after a NATO summit in London.

Last week, thirteen French soldiers died in Mali when their helicopters collided in the dark as they hunted militants. Thirty-eight French soldiers have now died in the region since French military operations began there five years ago.

“I can’t have French troops on the ground in the Sahel when there is ambiguity (by authorities) toward anti-French movements and sometimes comments made by politicians and ministers,” he told reporters at the news conference. He added that “Given what we have lived through, I believe they owe us clarity,” He also noted that “France is not there contrary to what’s heard sometimes for neo-colonialist, imperialist or economic reasons. We’re there for our collective security and the region.”

Kuvahaun tulos haulle salif keita
Salif Keita, Musician and Pan-Africanist

However, there is a growing call for France to withdraw all its forces from the region and the continent. Many Africans believe France is stoking tension in the region to benefit from its reach natural resources. Anti-France activist and popular Malian musician, Salif Keita, released a video on social media telling his President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to stop being subjected to the little kid Emmanuel Macron.

Prominent Pan-Africanist, Kemi Seba armed with his slogan of identity in his struggle “what African leaders will not do for the people, the people will do it themselves”, Kemi Seba has said that he intends to dislodge France from the Sahel and Africa in general. He has also announced a tour of the Sahel countries to speak against France’s presence in Africa. The Franco-Beninese activist will be in Burkina Faso on 19th December 2019 and then in Mali on 10th January 2020.

Kemi Seba, Franco- Beninese Pan-African Activist

Mr Macron has invited the heads of state of the five Sahel countries, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania to a meeting in Pau in southwestern France to discuss the issue. His invitation was accompanied by a threat. “Their response is today a necessary condition for our troops to stay,” he said. Many are speculating that Macron is using withdrawal of political support, as well as military and economic support to twist the arms of the Sahel leaders.

It should be noted that, with the presence of France in the Sahel, security has progressively worsened with France suspected of making deals with militant groups in the region to make the territory ungovernable. There have been growing protests demanding France leave, accusing it of being in the region for economic reasons.

The question we at Panafrica24 are asking is “With the vast natural resources in the Sahel and the combined military strength of the five nations, are French military and economic assistance needed?


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