French president Nicolas Sarkozy with new wife Carla Bruni have been on a tour of Africa with stops in Chad and South Africa. In Chad, Sarkozy held talks with beleaguered president Idriss Deby over the country’s security following a recent rebel offensive and the possible pardoning of French aid workers who last year were found guilty of kidnapping after they tried to smuggle a few dozen Chadian kids out of the country.
while in chad, president Sarkozy gave hints that he is going to change France’s defence arrangements with Francophone Africa. Over the years France has been notorious for propping up murderous and corrupt dictators like Deby himself with military and financial aid – a recent case being the French air force’s help in quelling a rebel offensive that nearly toppled the Djamena government.
This is a most welcome move. African states, and especially the unusually volative Francophone Africa, should be left to manage their own affairs and hold their leaders accountable to themselves and not Paris. Perhaps with reduced military aid the Debys of Francophone Africa will start listening to the voices of their sick, hungry and illiterate constituencies.
Sarkozy’s stop in South Africa was all about energy. According to the IHT, French engineering company Alstom on Friday signed a deal worth €1.36 billion (about US$2 billion) to equip a new coal power station for South Africa. Rumours also abound about another billion dollar deal involving French nuclear giant Areva and US group Westinghouse Electric to build a nuclear power plant in the country. South Africa has been going through an energy crisis that many experst fear will slow much needed economic growth.