For the new legislature of the French president, the advisers of Emmanuel Macron within the African cell of the Elysée will remain the same as during the first mandate. An amazing choice.
As he began his second term as head of France last April, Emmanuel Macron apparently did not change his tune regarding Paris' African policy. Of course, in May Catherine Colonna arrived at the Quai d'Orsay in place of Jean-Yves Le Drian. But it is not at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs that African issues are necessarily decided. At the Elysée, Emmanuel Macron has an Africa cell, like all French presidents since the early 1960s.
Today, we are far from the sulphurous African cell of Jacques Foccart, symbol par excellence of “Françafrique”. If it is still installed at 2, rue de l'Elysée, in Paris, it is Franck Paris who has become President Macron's Africa adviser. Within a cell that has fewer people than the fingers of one hand, when there were around sixty civil servants under Foccart.
A smaller cell than before
Above all, Franck Paris was, on his arrival at the head of the African cell, considered inexperienced. Despite a stint at the Quai d'Orsay or at the Directorate General for External Security (DGSE) - which remains uncertain - Franck Paris has never been an ambassador and knew little of African leaders. His assistant, Marie Audouard, was not necessarily more experienced.
Despite many hiccups in the Elysée's African policy — Mali and Algeria have been hot issues in recent years — and a feeling, seen from the continent, of arrogance on the part of Paris, Emmanuel Macron has decided to join the same team. However, there had been talk, according to sources close to the presidential palace, of modifying his team. Especially after the Montpellier summit, totally missed, in 2021.
Franck Paris is no stranger to these hiccups… The "Mr. Africa" of the Elysée Palace is indeed a pure and hard technician, who is said to be distant from the realities on the ground. He did everything to dust off the African policy of the Elysée, which really needed it, but seems to have been wrong all along the line.
Macron's Africa advisers return
Still, Franck Paris will embark on a second term with Emmanuel Macron. His first mission was Emmanuel Macron's African tour at the end of July, which took the French president to Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau. Franck Paris assured then that "this trip makes it possible to keep the thread of the agenda of the renewal of the Africa-France relationship, an agenda which was built and developed during the first mandate". After this mini-tour, Paris is currently preparing a trip to Niamey next September.
Regarding North Africa, Emmanuel Macron relies on another adviser: Patrick Durel. Advisor in charge of North Africa and the Middle East at the Elysée since 2020, Durel should see, according to Africa Intelligence, his mission extended. With him, a very delicate mission: to prepare the trip of Emmanuel Macron, at the end of August, in Algeria. Patrick Durel must indeed go upstream to Algiers to prepare the next meeting between the French president and his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune.