Using a tone described by the President of Burkina Faso as “problematic”, France has called five African presidents to a meeting on Monday to disavow rising anti-French hostility in their countries.
The meeting is also meant to work out how to stop the rapid advance of armed Islamist extremists in their region and determine whether France will remain deeply engaged in that fight.
The main reason for the meeting is to see how those five African leaders can silence protests at home and fight pent-up anger against colonial France.
President Macron has said that France could withdraw its 4,500 soldiers if the leaders of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania do not answer questions to his satisfaction.
The New York Times noted that the warning came as the United States also considers pulling troops from the region, adding, however that many analysts say the French and Americans are making empty threats when they talk about leaving the Sahel, a semiarid area stretching more than 2,000 miles across West and Central Africa that is plagued by violent groups loosely affiliated with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.
But their warnings, The Times added, illustrate the allied nations’ frustration with extremist gains, and with one another.
But many Africans simply no longer want exploitative France to continue to steal from their land and anger is spreading wide and fast.
The New York Times noted: “Urban Malians are demanding the departure of Operation Barkhane, the French counterterrorism force, while protesters in the capital, Bamako, chant slogans against France and have burned the French flag.
“Demonstrations have also taken place in neighboring Niger, where France and the United States have military bases, and in Burkina Faso, where their footprint is much lighter, but where violent attacks on civilians and soldiers have prompted France to intervene in the past year.
“At the summit meeting on Monday in Pau, a town in southern France, Mr. Macron has said he will be asking the African nations, known as the G5 Sahel countries, to clarify their governments’ stances on both the French presence and those who oppose it”.