The Roots of FranceAfrica : the demotion of France’s image in Africa

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Ever since the 1960s and decolonisation, there exists a specific relationship between France and Africa, generally dubbed by the pejorative neologism of FranceAfrica. This specificity can be explained through a domineering relationship, leaders’ personal affinities, frequently opaque pressures and interests. It bears the seed of the original misunderstanding of the cooperation system established by the access to independence. France’s main challenge is to define a FranceAfrica doctrine that should fit in its general foreign policy. The failure of various reforms thus shows the persistently heavy weight of colonial history. Moreover, France’s interventionist practice in Africa creates a suspicion of complicity and support to established regimes – which are often authoritarian – and contributes to the emergence of a hostile African public opinion, which does not understand France’s action and equates it with a domestic police operation. In this perspective, the Ivorian crisis appears to be a pivotal moment. Finally, one witnesses the increasing decline of France’s cultural, political and economic influence. New critics appear through the problem of immigration (visas, quotas…) and of development support. Reactions to president Sarkozy’s speech in Dakar are particularly revealing concerning this demise.