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Jean-Yves Le Drian, the problem of France in Mali?

In French Foreign Affairs since 2017, Jean-Yves Le Drian is the main interlocutor of the Malian authorities. But his presence today seems to be one of the main causes of the quarrel between Paris and Bamako.

May 16, 2012. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the former deputy, former mayor of Lorient, former Secretary of State for the Sea, takes up his duties as Minister of Defence. France was then chaired by François Hollande and Jean-Marc Ayrault. Five years later, Le Drian will become Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. However, when he arrived in the Ayrault government, the Breton did not know Africa any more than that. It is also very far from the sub-Saharan issues.

But very quickly, Jean-Yves Le Drian learns. It must be said that France has choice military bases in several African countries, most of them French-speaking. The Minister will therefore go there, observe... and get to know a continent of which he knew nothing, or almost.

One of the cogs of the new “Francafrique”

But very quickly, he takes his marks. Until becoming, almost ten years after his arrival at the high office of the State, one of the metronomes of the French Republic. Since then, Jean-Yves Le Drian has shown a certain influence with the French president. Above all, he succeeded in winning unanimous support against him in sub-Saharan Africa, where he is readily considered as one of the cogs in the new FRançafrique by Emmanuel Macron.

What strikes Africans, and Malians in particular, is the arrogance of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs. Le Drian never hesitates to make very controversial public outings. When announcing the gradual departure of Barkhane's forces, Le Drian dares to affirm that France is not leaving Mali, but that “it is Mali that is isolating itself”.

Never with any humility, always with a certain amount of interference, Le Drian advances the French pawns everywhere in the world. As when, concerning Lebanon, he indicated: “If certain leaders do not take their responsibilities, we will not hesitate to take ours”. A full attack on the sovereignty of the country.

Something to annoy in Africa. In the Senegalese newspaper Seneplus, the writer Jean-Claude Djéréké summarizes: "Regarding how Africa should react to French arrogance, we do not see a better attitude than that of the Central African and Malian authorities who, despite the outrageous cries and thinly veiled threats from Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly gradually advance on the difficult road to freedom and sovereignty”.

Arrogant like a Frenchman in Africa

In Bamako, Malizine sees Le Drian as "arrogant like a Frenchman in Africa". The French minister is accused of imposing on Mali not to discuss with the terrorists to find a solution. “The French minister has provided aid of 10 million euros and believes he is allowed to dictate his views to the Malian government. What arrogance! “, gets carried away the media.

“Arrogant like a Frenchman in Africa” is the title of Antoine Glaser's essay. The specialist in Africa deplores, on the part of Le Drian, a biased vision of the continent. "The case of the Central African Republic perfectly illustrates this attitude of the French army which still believes that it knows 'its' Africa like the back of its hand," indicates the author, who recounts Le Drian's failure in the Central African case. The French minister has, in fact, never succeeded in convincing the international community to act in a concerted manner in the CAR.

Christopher Fomunyoh, Africa director of NDI, an American think tank, believes that if Le Drian remains in office, Paris and Bamako will never be able to reconcile.

Beyond the arrogance of France and Le Drian, many observers see, on the side of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a lot of amateurism and post-colonial entryism. "Between amateurism and colonial arrogance, President Macron, Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian addressed Malian Prime Minister Choguel Maïga as a 'sub-prefect' of the French Republic" sums up Mondafrique.

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