Ali Dwayad

Françafrique falls apart: The case of Guinea

The recent coup in Guinea by Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouyalo is proof that France is losing its traditional influence over its former African colonies.

President Condé, who was ousted on 5 September, could easily have been called a “man of Paris”. He went there for study reasons at the age of 15, he had graduated from the University of Paris, specializing in Sociology and Public Law, and had taught at the Sorbonne. In the 1970s he had been accused of infiltrating a group of armed special agents in Guinea to carry out anti-government actions with the support of Portugal and for this, he had been sentenced to death in absentia.

Back in his native country in the 1990s, he had turned to active politics, founding his own political party, the Rassemblement du Peuple Guinée, with poor results in the 1993 and 1998 elections.

His political story, in fact, could have inspired the plot of an action film: a succession of rebellions, protests, arrests, culminating in the recruitment of foreign mercenaries in order to overthrow the regime and the inevitable retreat to France, where he would remain until 2005.

Only in 2010 had Condé finally managed to take power and become president, a president-monarch in reality, obtaining re-election in 2015, also thanks to the help of the French company Bolloré Group and its subsidiary Havas.

According to a politician of Pan-Africanist orientation of Benin, Kemi Seba, the overthrow of Condé, “good friend of Sarkozy and Soros”, should be read as a blow to the damage of Françafrique.

In a post published on his Facebook profile, Kemi Seba said: “I fervently pray that all the tyrants of the Francophone region of Africa fall one by one and the Françafrique will fall with them”.

How important Condé was to France is evidenced by the wide coverage given to him by the transalpine media, which closely followed his political events, whereas the British ones always limited themselves to dealing with the economic development linked to the production and trade of bauxite.

In fact, Doumbouyalo, the leader of the coup and head of the Guinean Special Forces, is also a former French Legionnaire who returned to his country just three years ago, whose excellent ties with the United States of America immediately emerged. But the real issue on which it is useful to reflect is, more generally, the inability that France is demonstrating to maintain order and control in its former African colonies.

Although very close to France, Condé had felt the need to reinforce the economic cooperation with other countries, had created close ties with Turkey, underpinned by a strong personal friendship with Erdogan, to the point that Soner Yalçın, commenting on the recent events in Guinea on the columns of Sözcü, has not hesitated to call them “a coup against the brother of Erdogan”.

Other very profitable agreements had been concluded especially with China (for a turnover of 3 billion dollars a year) and with the Russian company UC Rusal.

The president’s strategy unfolded on two parallel axes: on the one hand to maintain a close political relationship with Paris, on the other to explore new partnerships based primarily on economic interest.

The need to pursue such a “double-track” policy was already in itself evidence of the decline of the Françafrique system. Proof of this is the difficulties encountered by Bolloré, great gray eminence of Françafrique together with his subordinates of Havas, in getting his candidates elected in recent years and the recent uprisings in Mali and the Central African Republic.

In short, new actors are gradually replacing each other in Paris in the region.

Despite ties with China, Turkey and Russia, Condé remained a man raised and trained in France, and his Power Logics intertwined with French geopolitical interests. The same partial deviation from these, attested nothing more than his need to identify new interlocutors in light of the difficulties of Paris to protect (and control) his vassals. How Doumbouyalo will behave now is an enigma to be discovered.

But while the growing influence of Beijing and Moscow will not assume the contours particularly dangerous for Europe, the expansion of the range of action of the Turkish raises concerns: Ankara is pursuing a policy of neo-colonial essentially founded on soft power, in the specific case exercised through the islamization of the population in Africa in order to make it compatible with the logic of the imperial neo-ottoman (the Diyanet Işleri Başkanlığı) and functional at the same time, the blackmail of migration Turkey’s calls for the EU every time you need something.

But if the situation precipitated and Erdogan followed up on his threats, unleashing flows along the central Mediterranean route, would Italy be able to survive a new migration crisis?

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