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French President Macron accuses Russia of ‘predatory’ influence in Africa – SABC News

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President Emmanuel Macron accused Russia of fueling anti-French propaganda in Africa to serve “predatory” ambitions in troubled African countries where France has suffered military setbacks and lost influence in recent years.

Speaking on the sidelines of a summit of French-speaking countries in Tunis, Macron was asked to respond to critics who say France is using historic economic and political ties in its former colonies to serve its own interests.

“This perception is fueled by others, it is a political project,” Macron told TV5 Monde. “I’m not a fool, many influencers who sometimes appear on your programs are paid by the Russians. We know them,” he said.

“A number of states that want to expand their influence in Africa are doing it to harm France, to harm its language, to sow doubts, but above all to pursue certain interests,” he added.

France, a former colonial power in much of West and Central Africa, has long-standing military ties across French-speaking Africa, and French troops have been stationed in Mali for a decade as part of a counter-terrorism operation.

Critics describe France’s operation as a failure and blame it for further destabilizing the region.

It has also been vying for influence with Russia in recent years, deploying the Wagner Group private military in several countries, including the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali.

Paris was forced to withdraw troops from Mali after the military seized power in the African country in a 2020 coup amid strained relations. The military leaders subsequently invited Wagner to help in the decade-long battle against Islamist militants and severed relations with France.

Russia has stated that “Wagner” does not represent the Russian state and does not receive payment from it. But the EU imposed sanctions on Wagner, accusing him of conducting covert operations on behalf of the Russian government.

Last year, a United Nations report said Russian military instructors and local forces in the Central African Republic targeted civilians with excessive force, indiscriminate killings, seizure of schools and large-scale looting.

The Kremlin has called it a lie that Russian instructors were involved in murders and robberies in the gold- and diamond-rich country of 4.7 million people.

On Sunday, Macron called Russia’s behavior “predatory.”

“You only have to look at what is happening in the Central African Republic or anywhere else to see that the Russian project that is being implemented there, when France is sidelined, is a project of predation,” Macron said.

“This was done with the complicity of the Russian military junta,” he said.

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