Macron vows to fight extremism
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.
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.