France/Senegal – Guinea-Bissau/Mali
THE PRESIDENT – (…) I told President Macky Sall how happy we are – for Senegal in particular and for Africa in general – that the latest presidential election went ahead perfectly democratically. I also told him how much we appreciated [former] President Wade’s dignified attitude and President Macky Sall’s unifying spirit. (…)
We told him that France will stand alongside Senegal and that a €130-million budget support loan for 2012 will be released, with an initial tranche of €50 million at the end of June or beginning of July.
Thanks to President Macky Sall we signed a new defence agreement, transparently; this agreement will be published, as we had decided, and we’re totally determined to work hand in hand with our Senegalese friends.
This is the third transition in Africa – I mean in Francophone Africa – following the democratic transition that saw the election of President Ali Bongo in Gabon, and the accession of the elected President, Alassane Ouattara, in Côte d’Ivoire, where things were more complicated, but responsibilities had to be shouldered after 10 years without elections. A new democratic transition in Senegal is a victory for Africa and it shows – and I’ll finish on this – that we must have hope in Africa, hope in democratic Africa with a man like Macky Sall, and hope in Africa’s economic future and its capacity for higher growth than that of many of our countries, including European countries. So, cher Macky, we’ve welcomed you here as a friend. (…)
Q. – You’ve just signed two important agreements. Given the ties of cooperation between the two countries, can we expect – because a new government is in place and a new president has been elected in Senegal – can we expect any innovation with regard to cooperation between Senegal and France?
THE PRESIDENT – I don’t know what you mean by innovation. What I can tell you is that on Friday the French Finance Minister is going to help his Senegalese colleague negotiate with the IMF a release of the funds Senegal needs, and that the Ministre d’Etat and Henri de Raincourt are going to help the Senegalese authorities vis-à-vis the European Union to secure the release of funds.
President Macky Sall said: “a new relationship”. What does that mean? Total transparency, the publication of defence agreements, economic development, training development and cooperation. The age of colonialism is behind us; we simply want to play our role as Senegal’s friends. We’re not asking for any special treatment. We understand that a large country like Senegal can have other friends. We share a language, we share a history, we share a culture. We want to help you train your elites and stand by you. But we’re two great, independent countries who are friends and who speak to each other.
We’ll help train the Senegalese army, we’ll help the Senegalese internal security forces in an extremely unstable region of the world, and we’ll also take joint diplomatic initiatives to ensure Africa’s place in global governance is respected and represented. Everything will be on the table, and I reiterate my admiration for President Macky Sall.
Q. – Two questions on the situation in West Africa: on Mali, what’s your assessment of the international security threat following the events in Mali, and do you fear a state a little bit like Afghanistan or Somalia?
Secondly, on Guinea-Bissau, are you confident the junta will return the country to a civilian political transition?
THE PRESIDENT – France’s analysis is very close to Senegal’s.
As regards Guinea-Bissau, President Sanha died in France in January. There was an electoral process; we condemn the coup d’état absolutely unequivocally.
On Mali, we’re worried about the latest events. Let me remind you that President Amadou Toumani Touré resigned, as he was asked to. Frankly – and I’m not interfering in Malian affairs – people are rather wondering what’s happening, at the very time when an electoral campaign was under way, when President Amadou Toumani Touré wasn’t a candidate himself; people are really wondering what the urgent need for a coup d’état was. (…) Mali is a friend of France; we want to help her.
We’ll help her, but only when constitutional order is respected; and if the countries of the region – I’m thinking of Mauritania, Niger, Mali of course once the situation has been stabilized, and even Senegal – need France’s logistical support in the fight against terrorism, France is ready to help them, while respecting those countries’ independence.
Moreover, we’re committed to Mali’s unity, because if a signal starts being sent to the region that Mali can be divided… I urge very great caution.
We could go on at length about border issues, ethnic issues and colonial legacy issues, which are also unfortunate. That doesn’t mean there are no discussions to be had with the Tuareg. In any case, terrorist activity is a subject of concern in that region of the world. (…)./.