Frenchman Macron arrives in Cameroon, kicking off a three-country African tour

President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Cameroon on Monday evening at the start of a three-country tour of West Africa as he seeks to revive France’s postcolonial relationship with the continent.

Macron was greeted at Yaoundé airport around 10:40 p.m. by Cameroonian Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute.

The first trip of his new mandate outside Europe, which will also take him to Benin and Guinea-Bissau, should allow Macron to “show the president’s commitment to the process of renewing the relationship with the African continent”, said a French president. official, who asked not to be named.

Macron is due to meet Tuesday morning at the presidential palace with his counterpart Paul Biya, 89, who has ruled Cameroon with an iron fist for nearly 40 years.

They are expected to discuss security in Cameroon, which has been riven by ethnic violence and an insurgency by English-speaking separatists who have been fighting for the independence of two English-speaking provinces since 2017. Northern Cameroons has also been the scene of attacks by Boko Haram jihadists.

Macron had provoked Biya’s outrage in 2020 after he said he would apply “maximum pressure” on the president in the face of “intolerable” violence in the West African country.

His visit comes at a time when France, a former colonial power, has seen its influence decline against China, India and Germany, particularly in the economic and commercial sectors.

After a lunch with Biya and his wife Chantal, Macron will meet with representatives of youth and civil society.

He will end the day at “Noah Village”, run by former tennis champion Yannick Noah, who is developing a leisure and education center in a popular district of Yaoundé, where he resides for several months a year.

Macron will visit Benin on Wednesday, which has faced deadly attacks by jihadists, which have spread from the Sahel to the countries of the Gulf of Guinea.

Benin has long been praised for its thriving multi-party democracy. But critics say its democracy has steadily eroded under President Patrice Talon over the past half-decade.

On Thursday, Macron will end his tour of Guinea-Bissau, rocked by political crises as its president, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, prepares to take over as head of the Economic Community of West African States.

The three countries have been criticized by campaigners for their rights record, but the Élysée has insisted that issues of governance and rights will be raised, albeit “without media noise but in the form of exchanges between Heads of State”.

(AFP)

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