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The End of Françafrique?

Is France Losing Its Colonial Grip on Africa as Coups Surge?

By: Ewan Kellie

For decades, the complex relationship between France and its former African colonies, often referred to as "Françafrique," has played a significant role in shaping the political landscape of the continent. However, recent surges in military coups across Africa raise questions about the evolution of this relationship and its implications for the region's stability and governance.

Historical Context: The Legacy of Françafrique

Françafrique, a term coined in the mid-20th century, signifies the enduring and intricate ties between France and its African ex-colonies. This relationship has encompassed military alliances, economic dependencies, and political interventions. While France officially granted independence to its colonies, it retained a strong influence, using covert means to protect its interests in the region.

Diverse Coup Dynamics

In the backdrop of Françafrique, recent coups in Africa display a diverse range of dynamics. The recent coup in Gabon, for instance, is notably distinct from coups in the Sahel region, such as Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali. Unlike the Sahel coups, Gabon's transition of power was not driven by security threats like Islamist terrorism but rather by the dissatisfaction with a dynastic regime marked by corruption and contested election results.

The Gabonese coup is labeled as a "continuity coup," where the status quo prevails. Although it has the potential to bring change, it is more likely to maintain the entrenched interests that have long defined Gabon's politics, highlighting the role of corruption and inequality.

Picture taken by: USAFRICOM

France's Role in African Coups

The historical connection between France and its former colonies casts a shadow over the dynamics of coups in Africa. France has maintained a military presence in the region, offering training and support to local armed forces. However, there have been allegations of French involvement in some coups, sparking controversy and debates.

Impact on Democracy and Governance

The consequences of military coups are multifaceted. While some countries have successfully transitioned to democratic governance post-coup, this transition is often accidental rather than a deliberate choice. In many cases, the focus is on holding elections, even if they are not entirely free and fair, to regain international support. Françafrique's influence in shaping these outcomes is a subject of concern, with critics arguing that it hinders true democratic progress.

The Broader Shift Away from Democracy

Africa is not the only region experiencing undemocratic power transitions. The global trend away from democracy is evident in various forms, from autogolpes in Latin America to the manipulation of democratic institutions to consolidate power. This shift underscores the complexities of contemporary governance and the growing struggle between democratic nations and authoritarian regimes.

The Uncertain Future of Françafrique

As we examine the evolving dynamics of Françafrique, one thing is clear: the influence of France and its colonial legacy is undergoing a transformation. The intricate interplay of historical, geopolitical, economic, and social factors continues to shape the political landscape of Africa. Whether this marks the end of Françafrique or a transformation of its dynamics remains to be seen. However, it undoubtedly has a profound impact on the continent's political trajectory.

The power shifts and coups occurring across Africa are reshaping the dynamics of the continent's relationships, both internal and external. As the winds of change blow, the people of Africa stand at the forefront, striving for a future that is defined by their aspirations and not the echoes of a bygone era. The evolution of Françafrique, and the complex interplay of forces shaping Africa's political destiny, are narratives worth watching as the continent forges ahead into an uncertain yet promising future.


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