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Macron attacks Russia’s “predatory” strategy in Africa

(Bloomberg) – President Emmanuel Macron has accused Russia of a “predatory” strategy to stoke anti-French sentiment in Africa, where France has suffered military setbacks and lost influence in recent years.

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Speaking to TV5 Monde while in Tunisia for a summit of French-speaking nations, Macron noted that three-quarters of people living on the African continent today are under 25, meaning they don’t have never experienced French colonization.

Yet the past is “used by multiple foreign powers, which are trying to use their influence”, the French leader said. The interview was conducted on Saturday and published on the channel’s website.

“Thanks to social media and disinformation, a political project funded by Russia and sometimes others, the French are under attack,” Macron said.

Read more: Russia brings conspiracy theory factory to new audience

Macron said that “several” foreign powers who “want to strengthen their influence in Africa are doing so to hurt France, to hurt its language, to sow doubt but above all to promote their own interests”.

The French leader is trying to counter Russian influence in Africa, including trying to link this year’s food crisis to European sanctions. He pledged to revamp France’s military commitment to African security even as its soldiers leave Mali, driven out by the ruling junta in favor of the forces of the Russian mercenary group Wagner.

Macron tries to push back Russia’s influence in Africa

French troops entered Mali in 2013 to prevent al-Qaeda-linked militants from advancing towards the capital, Bamako. They ended up staying as violence crossed national borders in the Sahel region.

“We can very well look at what is happening in Central Africa or elsewhere to see what Russian project is being drawn up,” Macron said. “It’s a predatory project” which was set up with the “complicity of a Russian military junta”.

France must continue to engage with the African continent, especially with its younger population, added the French president.

Separately, in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper published on Sunday, Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu said that France was rethinking its presence in another African country, Burkina Faso.

“It is obvious that the revision of our general strategy in Africa calls into question all the components of our presence,” said Lecornu.

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