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Vol 38 No 15

Published 18th July 1997


Après le déluge – quoi?

Paris wants to recoup its losses – diplomatic and commercial – after a series of disasters

The triumph of the Parti Socialiste in Gaullist President Jacques Chirac's misjudged snap elections in May-June and the palpable failure of French strategy in Central Africa have precipitated a radical review of policy in Paris. Driving it are economic imperatives - the French treasury has to make swingeing budget cuts if it is to meet the membership criteria of European Monetary Union – and politico-cultural ones – the value of la voie française in an era of globalisation. But it's more difficult for Paris to square its political and cultural aims with economic realities in Africa than elsewhere; and after its policy rethink, Paris will still be more engaged in Africa than any other Western government. Policy planners are examining ways to: abandon most of the secret defence pacts with African governments; target economic help on 'stars' such as Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso; make a greater impact in their concentration on Southern Africa; and mend fences in Central Africa and the Great Lakes.

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