The French president ends his African tour in Guinea-Bissau


BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau – French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday concluded a three-country African tour in Guinea-Bissau that saw him commit to funding education and economic development as well as military support to fight against extremism in West and Central Africa.

On Thursday, he met Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who became the president of the West African economic bloc ECOWAS earlier this month.

West Africa faces security challenges with an increase in extremist attacks and several coups and power grab attempts since August 2020.

Macron, in a press conference after his meeting, said he discussed bilateral relations and the situation in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, all of which have experienced coups.

“We spoke at length about the risk of destabilization that the situation in the Sahel poses to the entire West African region. And I reiterated France’s determination, first of all, to remain engaged in the Sahel and in the region,” he said, adding that France could come and support the armies with training and equipment and joint missions.

“The only strategy that can be effective in the face of the proliferation of terrorist groups is a security agenda at the service of States and supplemented by a political agenda”, which helps to develop projects that create educational and economic opportunities for populations. . populations. “It is the synergy between political, security and development strategies that can only be effective in the face of the scourge of terrorism.

Embalo spoke only briefly, saying Macron’s presence in Guinea-Bissau was key to underscoring France’s interest in West Africa and the continent.

“I believe that the cooperation is already good, but now it will strengthen even more in all areas and especially in the field of security,” he said. “We are facing terrorism (…) not only in the Sahel region, but all of Africa is facing this scourge,” he added, welcoming Macron’s support.

Macron’s visit also comes as Guinea-Bissau faces political unrest. In February there was a failed coup attempt in which 11 people were killed, then in May Embalo dissolved parliament and called for snap parliamentary elections by the end of the year. year.

Since its independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has experienced four coups and more than a dozen coup attempts.

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