French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with Beninese President Patrice Talon on Wednesday during the second leg of a tour of three West African countries. Macron’s visit comes as several French opposition lawmakers have warned of an “alarming” increase in human rights abuses in Benin. Watch FRANCE 24’s live coverage of Macron’s press conference.
The three-day tour, which ends in Guinea-Bissau on Thursday, marks Macron’s first trip to Africa in his new term as French president as he seeks to revive France’s postcolonial relationship with the continent.
High on the agenda will be discussions on food supply issues, with African nations fearing shortages, particularly of grain due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The visit to Benin comes as 75 French opposition lawmakers wrote a letter to the president on Tuesday drawing attention to the “alarming” situation of political prisoners in Benin amid a crackdown by the Talon administration on prominent figures. of the opposition.
Security is expected to feature prominently during Macron’s West African tour as France prepares to complete its withdrawal from Mali this year as countries in the region seek to allay fears of Islamist insurgencies.
France aims to “respond positively” to requests from Benin and other countries for air support and intelligence to combat Islamist militants, a French official said on Wednesday, upon the arrival of President Emmanuel Macron in the western state. African.
The French president will likely be praised for championing the return in 2021 of more than a dozen artefacts looted from Benin by colonial forces in 1892, easing a source of friction between Paris and its former possession.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)