France’s Macron in Benin to discuss security and culture

President Macron continues with his visit to three African countries to improve relations with former colonies.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Benin counterpart, Patrice Talon
French President Emmanuel Macron and his Benin counterpart, Patrice Talon, take part in the signing of an agreement for the return of looted cultural artefacts to the African country, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on November 9, 2021 [File: Sarah Meyssonnier/Pool/AFP]

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to visit Benin to meet his counterpart, Patrice Talon, after Tuesday’s visit to Cameroon, where he met president Paul Biya.

During Macron’s visit on Wednesday, they will discuss security concerns and culture.

There have been increased attacks from rebel groups for months in northern Benin and the authorities have said they have recorded nearly 20 attacks by rebel groups since the end of 2021.

Paris has been closely monitoring the situation and will have discussions about possible support.

Macron and Talon will also visit an exhibition devoted to the royal treasures of Abomey, returned by France last November.

It is part of a trove of 26 artefacts that were stolen by French officials from Benin 130 years ago during the colonial era, fulfilling a promise made by Macron to restore a lost part of Africa’s heritage.

During Tuesday’s visit to capital Yaounde, he said the archives on French colonial rule in Cameroon would be opened “in full” and asked historians to shed light on the period’s “painful moments” and establish “responsibilities”.

Macron is currently on a trip to three African countries with hopes to reset France’s relations with the continent, where many nations are former French colonies and anti-French sentiments are on the rise.

He will conclude his Africa trip in Guinea-Bissau on Thursday.

France has been losing its sphere of influence on the continent, especially in French-speaking West and Central Africa, as evidenced by the recent decision of two former colonies Gabon and Togo to join the Commonwealth, Britain’s club of mostly former colonies.

In Chad and Senegal, during recent anti-government protests, several French businesses were targeted, demonstrating anger against the former colonial power.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies