n African Security Review - Only a ? Understanding French policy in Africa : commentaries

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1024-6029
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In France's Fifth Republic, foreign affairs constitute the paramount concern in all policymaking and the (reserved domain) of the president. This monopoly was facilitated by the 'hyper-president' allowed for by the 1958 constitution, constitutional and customary limitations on other actors, and the omnipotence of inter-cabinet channels. Despite pronouncements that France has neither the capability nor the desire to continue playing the role of Africa's (policeman), successive French governments have maintained a policy of co-opting and supporting a host of corrupt and unsavory dictators who show willingness to support France's interests. More recently French policymakers have begun proclaiming that they provide the best possible alternative to China, which is steadily making inroads into Africa. France's latest 'altruistic' endeavours are really designed to maximise France's interests in Africa, which it shamelessly considers as its (exclusive sphere of influence or, literally, private hunting-ground).

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