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Gabon violence: We won’t meddle in African politics, says France

Gabon violence: We won’t meddle in African politics, says France
September 02
16:16 2016

Jean-Marc Ayrault, France’s foreign minister, on Friday said days of meddling in African countries’ politics were over.

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Reacting to the post election violence in Gabon, a former French colony, Ayrault said as Africa’s partner, France does not act if its assistance is not sought.

There has been crisis in the country since Wednesday when President Ali Bongo was declared winner of the general election.

Supporters of Jean Ping, the opposition candidate, who has rejected the result, have taken to the streets in protest.

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Commenting on the issue in an interview on France 2 televisio, Ayrault said: “We are Africa’s partners but we do not want in any case to intervene in countries’ internal affairs. That would be disrespectful of Africans, they don’t ask for it.

“France act only when countries request Paris’ help.”

On Sunday, Bongo’s allies had expressed anger over a French Socialist Party statement declaring that early results showed challenger Jean Ping to be the winner.

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They accused it of failing to respect the sovereignty of a country where 14,000 French citizens live, and which hosts a French military base with 450 troops.

They said it harked back to the era of La Francafrique, when Paris played puppet-master in African countries decades after post-colonial independence, propping up leaders like Bongo’s father in exchange for pushing business to French firms.

There are recent precedents of France becoming involved in African countries such as in the Ivory Coast in 2011.

After Ivory Coast’s former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down following a disputed election, France went to the United Nation’s Security Council to get a mandate to send troops and help swing a civil war in favour of Bagbo’s rival Alassane Ouattara.

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Gabonese government spokesman Alain-Claude Nze told French television BFM TV that the government expected France to help ease tensions and bring both sides to a peaceful resolution.

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