The Daily Telegraph

France hands over army bases to African troops in ex-colonies

- By Vivian Song in Paris

FRANCE will no longer have its own military bases in Africa, Emmanuel Macron declared last night, under plans to convert them into training academies for local armed forces.

Ahead of a four-nation tour taking in Gabon, Angola, the Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo this week, the French president said he would gradually cede some military power to African troops as France reduces its presence on the continent.

Mr Macron described the shift as a reorganisa­tion, not a withdrawal, and said French troops will remain with a “reduced footprint” and work to respond to the local military’s needs. “The transforma­tion will begin in the coming months with a visible reduction in our workforce and a rise in power in these bases of our African partners,” Mr Macron said in a speech from the Elysee.

His tour comes just over a week after Burkina Faso ended a military accord that allowed France to fight insurgents in the West African nation. France withdrew its forces from Mali last year after the junta there began working with Russian military contractor­s.

Anti-french sentiment, fuelled by Russian mercenarie­s from within the Wagner Group, is growing in both countries. The bulk of France’s remaining 3,000 troops – down from 5,100 in 2021 – are based in Niger and Chad. Along with a gradual decrease in French military personnel, the management of existing military bases will be shared with local forces, who will be handed more executive power over time.

The bases will not close but will be “transforme­d” into academies for training and education, Mr Macron said.

Meanwhile, Algeria – Africa’s top natural gas exporter – hosted Russia’s top security official to discuss boosting military ties, reports AFP. Said Chengriha, an Algerian general, said the visit of Nikolai Patrushev reflected both countries’ “desire to strengthen their historic and strategic partnershi­p... in the area of military cooperatio­n”.

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