France in Africa: We can’t help coming back

Cross posted from The Economist.

DURING the military intervention of France in Mali January 2013, officials in Paris were at pains to emphasise the exercise’s modest ambition. “France can intervene only in an exceptional moment, for an exceptional and limited period”, said President François Hollande, as French troops swept into the west African country to beat back a jihadist advance that was threatening Mali’s capital, Bamako. After stopping the rebels in their tracks, France, he insisted, would hand over the country’s security to African forces.

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What are the Chinese up to in Africa?

Cross posted from The Spectator.

China's President Xi Jinping and Zambia's President Michael Sata

China’s President Xi Jinping and Zambia’s President Michael Sata

China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa Howard French

Alfred A. Knopf, pp.320, £22.50, ISBN: 9780307956989

Few subjects generate as much angst, or puzzlement, among Western policymakers in Africa as China’s presence on the continent. In his new book,China’s Second Continent, the American journalist Howard French recalls meeting US officials in Mali to sound them out on the matter. Instead, he finds himself barraged by questions. ‘It would really be useful for us to know what the Chinese are up to,’ one American official tells him. ‘So far we’ve been limited to speaking with them through translators. We’ve got very little idea about any of this.’

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The Ivory Coast: Let’s move on

Cross posted from The Economist.

A PANEL of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague confirmed on June 12th that Laurent Gbagbo, a former president of the Ivory Coast, would stand trial on charges of murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence. These were allegedly committed in his name during the six months between his defeat in a presidential election in November 2010 and his ousting by force the following April. Unless an appeal is successful, he will be the first head of state to be tried in person before the court. That means he will probably be behind bars during presidential elections slated for October next year.

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