Cameroonian pan-Africanist activist Nathalie Yamb believes that the French army is the enemy of Africa. Her remarks follow the announcement of the end of the Barkhane military operation in the Sahel made by Paris.
“The French army is the enemy of the Africans. Its presence in Africa is an occupation. We are not only demanding the end of all its opex on our continent, but also the dismantling of all French military bases here,”, Yamb wrote in a post on Twitter.
According to her, words alone are not enough, it is also necessary to follow the suit with action by closing all the military bases present on African soil.
French President Emmanuel Macron officially announced the end of Operation Barkhane on November 9.
As a follow-up to Operation Serval, which had been started almost two years earlier after the Mali coup government had pleaded with Paris for assistance in quelling an unchecked uprising by Tuareg rebels in the north who were affiliated with Daesh*, Barkhane commenced in August 2014.
The operation was expanded to include Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and Mauritania under Barkhane, and the headquarters were relocated to N’Djamena, Chad. The operation at its height consisted of 5,500 French soldiers as well as local forces.
French army ‘non grata’ in Africa?
In the Central African Republic, the last vehicles and troops of the French army left the country on November 4, after 62 years of presence on its soil.
At the other end of the continent, the last detachment of the Barkhane force left Malian soil on August 15. This had effectively ended an intervention to allegedly fight terrorism, which had started in 2013. In fact, this withdrawal followed the request of the Malian capital Bamako to withdraw “without delay” the French troops from the nation.
In recent years, there have been demonstrations in several African countries calling for the departure of the “French army” from the continent.
For example in November 2021, several hundred demonstrators opposed the presence of a French army convoy coming from the Ivory Coast in transit for Niger. This was a new act of bitterness expressed in recent years by many Burkinabe against the French military presence in the Sahel.