Emmanuel Macron is on July 28 in Guinea-Bissau. The French president realizes this Thursday the third and final leg of his African tour after Cameroon and Benin. The head of state will meet with his colleague Umaro Sissoco Embalo. A visit especially because Bissau has just taken over the rotating presidency of ECOWAS at the beginning of July.
The cap as president of ECOWAS makes Umaro Sissoco Embalo an important interlocutor for Paris. The Bissau-Guinean head of state now has on his desk the sensitive files in Burkina, Guinea and especially Mali. But for the journalist Antoine Glaser, “France no longer wants to appear on the front line. She prefers to highlight regional institutions,” he says.
However, Paris has been accused several times of manipulating ECOWAS. That’s what Bamako said when the organization sanctioned the ruling junta in January. The putschists had accused her of being “in the service of France”.
But according to an African diplomat, “the Élysée cannot impose its views. There are six English-speaking countries in the organization, including the Nigerian heavyweight and Ghana. There may be a desire to influence, but it is difficult to make it happen,” says this expert in the matter.
But the latter adds that this does not prevent Emmanuel Macron from going through his long-time allies, the Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara or Macky Sall, the President of Senegal, to reach ECOWAS. “The idea is to get the same results. We disappear, but we go through friends,” says this observer.
A source at the Élysée explains that France is “adapting to the positions of regional organisations”. So “Paris sends messages to ECOWAS, but it works both ways. We listen to their proposals and concerns. But we do not interfere in the balance of the discussions,” the diplomat said.
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