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Africa-France: mini-summit on security, dinner at the Élysée Palace… The parallel agenda of the presidents in Paris

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 08:10

The heads of state of the G5 Sahel, on 17 May at the Peninsula Paris hotel. /PREFASO

Invited to the summit on the financing of African economies, Sahelian heads of state took advantage of their presence in Paris to meet the day before, on 17 May, before meeting their counterparts at the Élysée for a wider discussion on debt.

Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, Bah N’Daw, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani and Mohamed Bazoum met with their foreign ministers on 17 May at The Peninsula Paris hotel. On the Chad side, prime minister Albert Pahimi Padacké was present.

This is the first meeting of the G5 Sahel presidents since their informal meeting on the sidelines of the funeral of Idriss Déby Itno on 23 April. They wanted to reassure themselves of Chad’s commitment, despite the transition that is still to last 17 months.

Emergency summit

Pahimi Padacké reaffirmed N’Djamena’s desire to maintain its position within this organisation; and he repeated this same message to the French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, whom he met on the morning of 18 May.

A battalion of 1,200 men remains deployed in the joint force and troops have left northern Burkina Faso, where they were on a mission in recent weeks, to join, as planned, their base in Tera, Niger, near the tri-border area, where they are conducting operations.

The Sahelian heads of state therefore confirmed that the Chadian presidency of the G5 Sahel, will be held by Mahamat Idriss Déby, who will be replacing his father. They also discussed the importance of continuing to pool efforts on the ground and the need to unlock funding from foreign partners. Noting that the security situation has deteriorated since the N’Djamena summit on 16 February, the presidents agreed to meet again ‘as soon as possible’.

Debates at the Elysée

At 8pm, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, Bah N’Daw, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, Mohamed Bazoum and Albert Pahimi Padacké then returned to the Elysée Palace. They were expected to dine at the invitation of Emmanuel Macron, with the other heads of state and government, some of whom were accompanied by their wives, as well as with representatives of major institutions (European Union, WTO, UNESCO, OIF, etc.).

On the agenda of the discussions, two major subjects: restructuring or cancellation of African debt, and the increase in the special drawing rights of African countries to $100bn, as opposed to the current $34bn – a proposal shared by Africa and France.

During a round table discussion, each of the guests was invited to speak. Félix Tshisekedi, Paul Kagame, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, Mohamed Bazoum, Cyril Ramaphosa, Kristalina Georgieva (director of the IMF) and the prime minister of Chad took part in the debate.

The latter reiterated N’Djamena’s position on the Libyan issue: the country’s security and the fact that mercenaries are being driven out of the country must not be at the expense of its neighbours. He was referring to the recent rebel incursion into Chad.

Informal meeting

The next day, at 11am, the heads of state of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) met at the initiative of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the organisation’s current president. From 2pm, they all wanted to agree on a common position on debt and the financing of economies, before taking part in the summit organised at the ephemeral Grand Palais, not far from the Champ-de-Mars.

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