Macron vows to fight ex­trem­ism

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Second Front -

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — France’s Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron has vowed to boost the fight against Is­lamic ex­trem­ism in West Africa as French troops killed 33 Is­lamic ex­trem­ists in cen­tral Mali.

Satur­day was Macron’s sec­ond day of his three­day trip to Ivory Coast and Niger that has been dom­i­nated by the grow­ing threat posed by ji­hadist groups.

“We must re­main de­ter­mined and united to face that threat,” Macron said in a news con­fer­ence in Abidjan. “We will con­tinue the fight.”

By Macron’s side, Ivo­rian Pres­i­dent Alas­sane Ou­at­tara in Abidjan an­nounced a “historic” re­form of the French-backed cur­rency CFA Franc, es­tab­lished in 1945 and used by eight states in West and Cen­tral Africa.

The cur­rency’s name will be­come the “eco” next year and all French of­fi­cials will with­draw from its de­ci­sion-mak­ing bod­ies, Ou­at­tara said. In ad­di­tion, the obli­ga­tion for mem­ber states to keep half of their for­eign re­serves in France will end.

The cur­rency will re­main pegged to the euro, which guar­an­tees its sta­bil­ity, Ou­at­tara stressed.

Macron, who turned 42 on Satur­day, wel­comed the re­form and praised the fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment of the re­gion.

“I don’t be­long to a gen­er­a­tion that has known colo­nial­ism ... so let’s break the ties!” he said, adding that the cur­rency was con­sid­ered by some, es­pe­cially the African youth, as a post-colo­nial her­itage.

Ear­lier that day, Macron an­nounced that a French mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion killed 33 Is­lamic ex­trem­ists in the Mopti re­gion of cen­tral Mali on Satur­day morn­ing.

He tweeted he was

“proud of our soldiers who pro­tect us.” Two Malian gen­darmes also were res­cued in the op­er­a­tion, he said.

France has about 4,500 mil­i­tary per­son­nel in West and Cen­tral Africa, much of which was ruled by France dur­ing the colo­nial era. The French led a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion in 2013 to dis­lodge Is­lamic ex­trem­ists from power in sev­eral major towns across Mali’s north.

In the en­su­ing years, the mil­i­tants have re­grouped and pushed fur­ther into cen­tral Mali, where Satur­day morn­ing’s op­er­a­tion was car­ried out.

AP Photo/Diomande Ble Blonde

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron is wel­comed by Pres­i­dent Alas­sane Ou­at­tara upon ar­rival in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Fri­day Dec. 20. Macron is in Ivory Coast for a three-day of­fi­cial visit.

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