Tag Archives: France

EU defence ministers to visit Sahel

The French Defence minister Florence Parly (pictured) expected to arrive to the Sahel on Sunday January 19 with her counterparts from Estonia, Sweden and Portugal, the countries ready to support Barkhane’s trooops in the fight against jihadist armed groups.

“I am going to the Sahel on Sunday, I will be accompanied by the Swedish Minister for Defense, as well as by the Estonian Minister for Defense and finally the Portuguese Minister“, said Florence Parly on Europe 1.

We will continue to support our Sahelian partners and, in addition, we are calling for internationalization, for partners to join us to help the countries of the Sahel to fight this fight,” she added.

Estonia has confirmed its participation in the future coalition of special forces (“Takuba”) which France has taken the initiative to support by 4,500 troops of Barkhane in the Sahel. Sweden and Portugal could also be present.

We are not alone and there will certainly be more of us there when, in the summer, this Takuba force, which will be made up of European special forces, will be able to accompany the Malian armed forces,” said Florence Parly.

Barkhane does not act alone. The last operation that we conducted recently, more than 50% of the forces that were involved in this operation were partner forces, Sahelian and European. ”

Barkhane: France sends 220 troops

Faced with a persistent jihadist threat, the leaders of the G5 Sahel countries and France announced the establishment of a new operational framework with redefined priorities and concentrated action on the so-called “three borders” area between Mali , Niger and Burkina Faso.

The military coalition will have a “joint command” between the Barkhane force and the joint force of the G5 Sahel, “by integrating our intelligence forces, our military forces” in the area of the three borders, “with a much stronger latitude of engagement. ”, said Emmanuel Macron.

“Beyond that, I decided to engage additional combat capabilities – 220 soldiers to initiate this dynamic will swell the troops already present on the Barkhane field”, which currently counts 4,500 men, added the French head of state.

“The priority is the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), which does not prevent us from fighting all the armed terrorist groups but it is the priority enemy because the most dangerous,” he said. for follow-up. A month after threatening to withdraw French troops from the region in a context of anti-French sentiment, Emmanuel Macron estimated that he had obtained the necessary “clarification” from his partners who in a joint declaration expressed the wish to see the Barkhane operation.

West Africa abandons colonial franc

West Africa’s monetary union has agreed with France to rename its CFA franc the Eco and cut some of the financial links with former metropole, ensuring the region’s common currency since its creation soon World War Two.

Under the new agreement, the Eco will remain pegged to the euro but eight African countries in the bloc won’t have to transfer 50% of their reserves in the French Treasury and there will no longer be a French representative on the currency union’s board, meaning Paris will also withdraw “from the governance bodies in which it was present”.

Critics of the CFA have long seen it as a relic from colonial past while proponents of the currency say it has provided financial stability for the turbulent region.

“This is a historic day for West Africa,” Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara said during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Abidjan, the capital.

In 2017, Macron highlighted the stabilizing benefits of the CFA but said it was up to African governments to determine the future of the currency.

“Yes, it’s the end of certain relics of the past. Yes it’s progress … I do not want influence through guardianship, I do not want influence through intrusion. That’s not the century that’s being built today,” said Macron.

We have decided to reform the CFA franc with three major changes (…) including the change of name “and” stopping the centralization of 50% of the reserves in the French Treasury, “said Mr. Ouattara during at a joint press conference on the second day of the French president’s visit to Côte d’Ivoire.

Emmanuel Macron described this decision as “major historic reform”. “The Eco will see the light of day in 2020, I welcome it,” he added, adding that the CFA franc was “perceived as one of the vestiges of Françafrique”.

This reform has been negotiated for six months, according to a French source, between France and the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA): Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

It does not currently concern the six Central African countries which use the CFA franc but which form a separate monetary zone.

Paris said it was “open” to this development after multiple discussions with African capitals, while the controversy over this currency had again grown in recent months.

The “franc of the French colonies in Africa” was created in 1945 and became the “franc of the African Financial Community” after independence.

The fixed parity with the euro of the CFA franc, the future Eco, maintained (1 euro = 655.96 CFA francs), but this point is likely to change when the common West African currency comes into being.

Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement today on the reform of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)’s CFA franc framework:

“I welcome the reforms to the WAEMU’s CFA franc currency arrangement that were announced today by Presidents Ouattara and Macron in Abidjan. They constitute a key step in the modernization of long-standing arrangements between the West African Economic and Monetary Union and France.

“The announced measures build on WAEMU’s proven track record in the conduct of monetary policy and external reserve management. In recent years, the WAEMU has recorded low inflation and high economic growth, the fiscal situation has improved, and the level of foreign exchange reserves has increased.

“The reforms also maintain key elements of stability that have served the region well, including the fixed exchange rate with the euro and the guarantee of unlimited convertibility provided by France.

“The IMF stands ready to engage with the regional authorities, as needed, and to support the implementation of this important initiative.”

13 French military perish in Mali

During counter-terrorist operation in Mali thirteen French soldiers have been killed in a helicopter collision, the French president’s office announced.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed “deep sadness” over the biggest single loss of life for the French military since the 1980s.

An investigation has begun into how the two helicopters crashed into each other.
It happened around 19:40 local time (19:40 GMT) on November 25 near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger where the aircraft were reinforcing ground troops who were pursuing djihadists, the French military explained.

Thousands of French troops have been deployed in Mali in anti-terrorist operaiton Barkhane in Mali.

French solider killed in Mali

French soldier perished in Mali after his armoured vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb, France’s presidency said in a statement.

Corporal Ronan Pointeau died near Menaka in eastern Mali following “the detonation of an improvised explosive device as his armoured vehicle drove by,” the statement said.

President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to Pointeau’s “sacrifice” and said his thoughts were with the soldier’s colleagues and “his Sahelian brothers in arms, who are paying a heavy price in the fight against terrorism.”

The Sahel region became a battlefield between jihadists and governmental forces backed by troops from France and UN peacekeepers.

Pointeau’s death follows an attack on November 1 in the same region that left 49 Malian soldiers dead (according to the other reports 53 military and one civilian).

The offensive was claimed by the Islamic state group via their news site Amaq.

G7 focus on Africa

Let me also say that the EU has concrete proposals for Africa. We are keeping our longstanding commitment to the Global Fund against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and we will contribute 550 million euros to the replenishment of the Fund. This means that our overall involvement will exceed 1 billion euros” said the president of the European Council Donald Tusk (pictured) ahead of the G7 Summit in Biarritz.

“I am also happy to announce that the EU will join the “Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa”, which is an important step in the fight for women’s empowerment. The EU’s contribution of over 85 million euros will help develop 100.000 businesses run by women. Last but not least, the EU will contribute an initial 1 million euros to the “International Fund for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence” that Nadia Murad and Doctor Denis Mukwege, winners of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, will present to G7 leaders tomorrow.”

South Africa will collaborate with other developing countries that have been invited to participate in the summit in order to advance Africa‘s developmental agenda, the Presidency said before President Cyril Ramaphosa left for Biarritz, France to attend the summit scheduled for August 24-26, following South Africa’s invitation to attend as a key partner.

Biarritz25/08/2019 AMENDED:

Mali: Barkhane operation continues

The French General Staff informed about an operation carried out from 25 July to 3 August 2019  in Mali by Barkhane  and the Malian Armed Forces, underlining “the ability and determination of the Malian soldiers to fight alongside Barkhane“.

The 4,500 French troops deployed in former French colonies for ‘Operation Barkhane’ face huge logistical challenges in hostile terrain. The major difficulty is cooperation with a civilian population spread haphazardly across vast and remote spaces, often either sympathetic to the Islamists or terrified of informing about them.

In Gossi, a plagued by Islamic State fighters next to the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger, the town’s local government Councillor had fled after being threatened and found refuge in the Malian base, according to the French Commander.

Operation Barkhane was launched in the wake of Operation Serval, a French offensive that pushed back Tuareg rebels and allied Islamists from northern Mali’s vast desert in 2013.

While Serval had brought moderate stability to northern Mali, unrest had spread to the country’s more populated center, with attacks also reaching neighboring Burkina Faso, Niger and even Ivory Coast.

With no end date announced at its launch, the follow-up operation would try to stabilise countries in the region by assisting their governments in a West African anti-terrorism force. Five years on, no end is in sight.

“We have a dogged adversary, who is tough, drawing from a breeding ground that is favourable to him because the population is isolated,” Colonel Nicolas James, Commander of Desert Tactical Croup Belleface.

Today the radical Islam is actively exploiting modern means of communications, that is why patrol has to search not only for weapons, but also for propaganda in smartphones. When conducting operations, they have to screen the content of smartphones of locals to detect incriminating  jihad propaganda.

On a rare trip with the French troops into central Mali, Reuters journalists were searching for answers why a five-year-old mission, initially planned as a short-term operation to hand over to local forces, may have many more years left to run.

Back in 2018 the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General François Lecointre said: “I do not think that it is possible to solve the problem in Mali in less than ten to fifteen years, if we can at all. The evolution of the situation in Mali is not satisfactory and we will not leave tomorrow, leaving it in stagnation“.

The Barkhane operation relays on €600 millions a year funding.

In spite of being ranked as the third largest in Africa resource of gold, Mali remains of the poorest countries in the world, dependent on international aid. Main gold mines, Sadiola and Morila still constitute the model, which is named “gold-dependent economy”, providing the state with more than a half of export revenue. The average wage in Mali is around a euro per day, and more than half of the population currently lives below poverty line.

 

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