2010 Volume 2010 Issue 159 Pages 159_116-130
Nicolas Sarkozy became French president in May promising “rupture” on every possible issue—and he made clear that the old corrupt ties with former African colonies were among the items to be ditched. During the campaign he called for a “normal relationship” with Africa. This suggests a sharp contrast with France's traditional policy in Africa, which was deeply defensive and aimed at preserving a sphere of influence on a continent. This policy called “Francafrique” and epitomised by Mr Sarkozy's immediate predecessors Francois Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac—was in many ways an extension of colonial rule. Personal links between French and African leaders bound Paris to friendly regimes which were given protection in exchange for political allegiance, votes at the UN, and deals with French firms that were lucrative for all concerned.
But talk of “normalisation” and clean government was not always matched by reality. So are Sarkozy's promises of a fresh start any more credible than previous pledges of reform in France's African policy? The author is trying to examine the reality of Sarkozy's african policy.