Appointed in place of Jean-Yves Le Drian at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna will have to look into African issues, and particularly the Malian issue.
The reactions are unanimous: disembarking from the Quai d'Orsay, Jean-Yves Le Drian is no longer the French Minister of Foreign Affairs. And that delighted observers who saw in François Hollande's former Minister of Defense one of the cogs in the new “Françafrique”. With the departure of Le Drian from the Quai d'Orsay, following the appointment of the new government of Emmanuel Macron, newly re-elected, it is also the end of a symbol: the Breton had notably been the spearhead of the Serval operation in Mali. With the departure of the French soldiers, the loop is therefore complete.
It is therefore Catherine Colonna who replaces Le Drian. Former Minister Delegate for European Affairs, she was until today French Ambassador to London. By appointing her Minister of Foreign Affairs, the new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne responds to Emmanuel Macron's desire to put diplomacy back at the center of the international game. Former spokesperson for the presidency under Jacques Chirac, she often traveled on the continent with him. But it is especially on the Ukrainian file that the sexagenarian will be expected.
The Sahelian file, not really a priority?
And about Africa? The departure of Jean-Yves Le Drian is above all an opportunity for Catherine Colonna to change the African teams at the Quai d'Orsay. According to Africa Intelligence, the minister has just set up her cabinet, which will be headed by Emmanuel Puisais-Jauvin instead of Nicolas Roche. For Africa, Catherine Colonna has chosen another woman: Nadia Fanton. The latter was, until today, Deputy Director for Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As for Arnaud Suquet, the predecessor of Nadia Fanton, he will leave his post to join the French Embassy in Kenya. Nadia Fanton went through the French Embassy in Burkina Faso or even through the Africa team in Paris at the United Nations. Suffice to say that the diplomat knows the continent.
It remains to be seen what will be the post-Le Drian French policy in Africa. Paris must now renew ties with several countries, starting with Mali. A difficult mission for France. Especially since the importance of the Russian-Ukrainian file means that Africa is not Emmanuel Macron's top priority. The proof: according to Africa Intelligence, no trip to the African continent is currently planned. And if Nadia Fanton knows about Africa, she is not as used to presidential palaces as Jean-Yves Le Drian.