France courts African govts to speak up against Russia

At least 28 out of 54 African countries voted for the resolution of UN general assembly condemning Russia’s aggression, while several others abstained.

France courts African govts to speak up against Russia
France President Emmanuel Macron. PHOTO | Courtesy

France President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to hold a meeting with his African counterparts amid push to have the latter speak up against Russian invasion of Ukraine, and cease partnerships with the mercenary Wagner Group.

In a press briefing with African journalists recently, French diplomats confirmed that the summit will take place in June this year.

It will be yet another meet following one on the financing of African economies held in May 2021 where Macron pledged support of France and allies to his African counterparts in tackling effects of the covid-19 crisis.

“Our President has taken a new initiative to convene a new summit in June. It will focus on sustainable financing for vulnerable economies, and for climate action,” said Clement Leclerc, Deputy Director of the Africa and Indian Ocean Directorate of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Leclerc, alongside Sylvain Guiaugé, France’s Deputy Director of the Continental Europe Directorate addressed journalists across the African continent in a virtual session held on February 6.

The diplomats also indicated that the summit will be the occasion for France to engage African partners on other issues especially those pertaining to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and its impact.


In particular, French diplomats expressed concerns over the approach to Russia-Ukraine war by governments on the African continent, and what they called hybrid interference from the side of Russian proxies that is on the rise on the continent.

They were making reference to Wagner Group, Russian Paramilitary mercenary firm which has gained footprint in a number of African countries, especially amid rise in anti-France sentinemnts and subsequent demonstrations in Mali and Burkina Faso of the Sahel region.

France has over the past months pulled out troops from the region where they have been conducting counter-terror operations.

Details suggest that leaders in the region have since embraced Russia as new military ally, allowing in the Wagner Group fighters.

Also read: US diplomats end Africa trip with accent on peace, rights, trade with Russia

The development, coupled with tour of Russian diplomatic chief Sergei Lavrov in a number of African countries lately further fueled uneasiness among Western powers.

French diplomats say that despite African countries not having supported ongoing war in Ukraine, they have been reluctant to speak up against Russia for undisclosed reasons.

“This need to be distinguished by any kind of support to the situation because the is for aggression is contrary to every very basic principle that the UN Charter but also the constitutive act of the African Union is contrary to the multilateralism that that all African partners,” said Leclerc.

At least 28 out of 54 African countries voted for the resolution of UN general assembly condemning Russia’s aggression, while several others abstained.


French diplomats also say the presence of Wagner Group is detrimental to the sovereignty of the countries where they have gained foothold, a fact they say is based on the country’s own assessment and documentation of both the United Nations and local NGOs.

“They [Wagner Group fighters] fund themselves by obtaining uneven mining rights to actually fund their operations. They are also responsible for documented human rights violation,” said Mr. Leclerc.

“It's clearly a trap, because it's not necessarily reversible. Therefore, this is something that we are very worried about and caution of our African partners against,” he added.