French President François Hollande has used the 27th Africa-France summit to try to ‘heal’ the African wounds caused by French government operations on the continent, before leaving office in less than four months.
At the Bamako, Mali summit all eyes were on President Hollande and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame after the latter had declined to attend the same summit in 2013. The two greeted each other and took group photo with host President Keita.
With a lot of modesty, this time France wants to bring each African country on board, not only the French speaking countries.
“France and Africa have been able to meet the challenges and move the world. We come to Africa to help and we have no other motive. The future of Africa is our (France’s) future,” Hollande said.
These statements are a tone changer, as activists from some African civil societies gathered in Mali for a counter-summit said they believe that France has “sacrificed human rights and democracy for the sake of stability”.
Rwanda and France have not been on the same page over the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi which claimed a million lives. France aided and supported the genocide regime and has since refused to apologise for its role.
In 2015, during the liberation day celebrations President Kagame rebuked France for playing games with Rwanda’s liberation.
The French President announced a new fund for Africa’s development and increased efforts in training African troops.
The French annual aid and loan commitments to African nations was increased by one billion euros to five billion ($5.3 billion) over the next three years.
Some African heads of state from French-speaking countries boycotted the Bamako meeting- like president Joseph Kabila of DRC, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia.
Heads of state and diplomats at the talks will also discuss a string of recent political crises in African nations.
Meanwhile President Kagame was given an extra-ordinary treat among other Anglophone African presidents at the summit – he sat in the front row closer to the host President.
President Kagame was a also a key witness to the signing ceremony of the Mali Peace Deal in 2015 and Rwanda contributes to the restoration of peace in Mali sending its police forces for peacekeeping mission.
Rwanda is a biggest contributor to the United Nations peacekeeping missions, with over 4,650 troops deployed around the World.