Thursday, May 24, 2007

La Francafrique

In previous blogs we have highlighted the roles of Chins and The united Staes in the politics and economics of Africa and in case we are criticised for not mentioning the other nations exploiting the continent , we have decided to highlight the French on this occasion

French businesses have longstanding operations in Africa. The continent accounts for 5 percent of France’s exports. Though France has diversified its sources of raw materials, Africa remains an important supplier of oil and metals. There are 240,000 French nationals living in Africa.

About 6000 French troops engaged in peacekeeping operations are deployed in Africa in both military and advisory capacities, according to the French Ministry of Defense. There are three main French bases in Africa. The largest is at Djibouti , with smaller forces at Dakar in Senegal and Libreville in Gabon. Their purpose is to promote regional security, though the base in Djibouti allows France to exercise a measure of military influence in the Middle East. (Also in Djibouti are about 1,500 American personnel stationed at the former French base Le Monier since 2003.)

Chad. France fields some 1,200 troops in Chad to protect French nationals, support the government of President Idriss Deby Itno, and provide logistical and intelligence support to Chadian forces. On a recent visit, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin promised France would “honor its agreements with a friendly and legitimate government.”

Central African Republic . France maintains some 300 troops in the CAR capital Bangui as part of Operation Boali, charged with restructuring the local armed forces and supporting FOMUC, an African force led by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, a regional body. François Grignon of the International Crisis Group say it’s likely “French special forces were engaged for limited but decisive operations.” The Economist reported that French fighters, attack helicopters, and special forces quashed a rebel advance on the capital Bangui in late 2006, allowing government forces to retake towns captured by rebels.

Ivory Coast. France deploys approximately 3,000 troops—under a UN mandate—to patrol the buffer zone between the rebel-controlled northern regions and the government-controlled south. Locals tend to view French troops as an occupation force; one French observer, as quoted in the Economist, calls Ivory Coast “France’s little Iraq.”
"First, we send soldiers to protect our nationals," declared diplomatic correspondent Christophe Ayad. "Then, we send more soldiers to protect the soldiers protecting our nationals. In the end, we send soldiers to decide a war."

Togo. French soldiers and transport aircraft are stationed in nearby Togo to support the operations in Ivory Coast.

France conducts joint maneuvers and peacekeeping training through the Reinforcement of African Peacekeeping Capacities (RECAMP) program and its Peacekeeping School (EMP) in Mali, which has trained over 800 African officers. These institutions intended to support the African Standing Force, a 20,000 strong rapid-response peacekeeping force projected to be ready by 2010.

France intervened militarily in Africa 19 times between 1962 and 1995. Most of the operations were ostensibly to protect French nationals or subdue uprisings against legitimate governments. Yet Professor Shaun Gregory of the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in England points out that the standard for military support was contingent on an African leader’s willingness to support French interests.

French hands had blood on them during the Rwanda genocidal massacres . Despite having been a Belgian colony, by 1990 Rwanda was a fully-fledged member of "La Francafrique".
The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1990. The aim of this Tutsi dominated army was a return to their Rwandan homeland. The RPF were vilified by high-ranking French military figures as a "terrorist" bunch of foreigners from Uganda, and likened to the "Khmer noir".
Elite French paratroops were sent into Rwanda to keep the RPF at bay, in one of sixteen non-UN mandated military interventions by Paris in Africa between 1960 and 1994. Officially France sent more than $25 million worth of arms to Rwanda between 1990 and 1993, as well as providing army trainers to motivate and advise Habyarimana's army. Witnesses have recently testified that the French were also involved assisting with the newly formed youth militia, which were later to carry out the bulk of the genocide. In late June 1994 Mitterrand launched Operation Turquoise as a "humanitarian" intervention to protect Tutsis. While it undoubtedly saved around 10,000 lives, it also allowed fully armed genocidaire to escape over the border into Zaire, from where they were to relaunch attacks on the newly installed Kagame government. Such attacks, which independent NGO's said were partly financed and aided by French operatives .Mitterrand went further, to block desperately needed EU aid to the devastated country.

1 comment:

John said...

How is it working for us? Not well. The Department of Peace will support and expand local programs that end the beginnings of violence. Addressing the root causes of violence in our homes, schools and community will enrich our lives and provide a better future for our children. What do you say? I don't know about you but this is what I want for my children. Google The Department of Peace and look at The Peace Alliance. That's where I want my tax dollars spent.