President Sarkozy lays out new Africa policy

27th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

DAKAR, July 26, 2007 (AFP) - President Nicolas Sarkozy laid out Thursday his vision of a new partnership between France and Africa, urging the continent not to dwell on its colonial past and to commit itself to good governance.

DAKAR, July 26, 2007 (AFP) - President Nicolas Sarkozy laid out Thursday his vision of a new partnership between France and Africa, urging the continent not to dwell on its colonial past and to commit itself to good governance.

Sarkozy was speaking on a visit to France's former colony Senegal, the second stop of his first tour to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office in May.

The French president said it was time Africans rose up to the problems confronting them including dictatorship and poverty and pledged to supporting any efforts to change the continent's fortunes.

"Do you want to end the arbitrary corruption, violence? Do you want property to be respected, that money is invested instead of being embezzled. Do you want the rule of law?"

"It is up to you to take the decision and if you decide so, France will be by your side like a unwavering friend, but France cannot take the place of African youths," Sarkozy told students at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop.

He admitted that colonisation was a "great mistake", but said it was not to blame for all Africa's difficulties such as the genocide and wars that have ravaged the world's poorest continent.

"What France wants to do with Africa, is to face realities, to have a policy based on realities and not a policy of myths," he said.

The speech was generally well received but drew criticism from some who felt the French president was in danger of lecturing to his audience.

"It was a little too much of a moralising speech," said Moustapha Kassy, economics professor at the university.

"It is undeniable that we are responsible for some things hampering our progress, but the world is also guilty for a good part of Africa's situation," Kassy said.

"The Africans are conscious of their problems," Aissata Tall Sall of the leading opposition Socialist Party told AFP.

In an earlier interview with the pro-government Senegalese daily Le Soleil, Sarkozy said he intended to "modernise" ties with Africa and "get rid of the old demons, cronyism, paternalism and aid dependence".

More aid must imply "more efficiency" on both sides, he argued in a separate interview with private daily Wal Fadjiri.

"We should no longer accept that development aid can become a subsidy for poor governance," he added.

Sarkozy's election was expected to bring about a major change in ties with former African colonies, namely a break from the perceived French practise of courting African strongmen no matter how dubious their democratic credentials.

In his talks with Wade, Sarkozy pledged France's aid to help fund the trial of Hissene Habre, the former dictator of Chad, another colonial era possession of France.

Habre, who has lived in exile in Senegal since 1990, is due to stand trial for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during his eight-year reign of terror in the central African country.

Senegal has in recent years come under mounting pressure from Habre's victims to get the trial off the ground, but Wade said the process would be too expensive for his country to handle on its own.

Habre's regime is accused of committing some 40,000 political murders.

President Wade betrayed none of the tensions over France's tightened immigration policy to stem the flow of illegal immigrants to Europe.

"Mr Sarkozy and I are in full agreement on the immigration philosophy," he said.

The two countries also signed an agreement to promote French investment in Senegal in the face of growing competition from other players such as Arab countries, India, China and the United States.

His mini-tour of Africa started in Libya on Wednesday.

From Senegal he is due to proceed to oil-rich Gabon for talks with Africa's longest-serving president, Omar Bongo, on Friday.


AFP

Subject: French news

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