France’s Macron in Nigeria to Discuss Security

France’s Macron in Nigeria to Discuss SecurityFrance’s Macron in Nigeria to Discuss Security

French President Emmanuel Macron met with his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja as part of his latest attempt to forge closer ties with English-speaking Africa.

Macron’s jet touched down in Abuja from Mauritania, where he attended the final day of an African Union summit dominated by security issues in the restive Sahel region, AFP reported.

He was met on the tarmac by Nigeria’s foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, before the presidential convoy left for Buhari’s Aso Rock residence on the edge of the capital.

The 40-year-old former investment banker, who speaks fluent English, spent six months as an intern at the French embassy in the city in the early 2000s.

He told reporters traveling with him, “I like Nigeria a lot. It’s an appealing country. I’ve got a lot of memories ... that haven’t left me.”

Since coming to power he has made a point of boosting ties with France’s former colonies but also improving trade with Anglophone countries.

He visited Ghana last year—Africa’s economic powerhouse and the continent’s leading oil producer—and Nigeria was the next logical step.

Nigeria, a country home to over 180 million people, produces nearly two million barrels of crude oil per day and is a key economic partner for France.

  Security Talks

Macron said en route from Mauritania that “regional security and the fight against Boko Haram” would be high on the agenda in talks with Buhari, calling him a “key player”.

Nine years of violence in the remote northeast has spread across the wider Lake Chad area. As a result, Macron said “the mobilization of African states is fundamental.”

Nigeria and its French-speaking neighbors Cameroon, Chad and Niger are involved in a joint military force to combat the militants, whose violence has killed at least 20,000 people.

Nigeria is also currently gripped by a resurgence of violence between nomadic cattle herders and farmers, which has claimed some 1,000 lives since January this year.

Amnesty International last week said some 1,813 people have been killed in all types of violence since the start of 2018—more than double that in the last 12 months alone.

That has put former military ruler Buhari, 75, under pressure as he looks toward securing a second term at elections in February next year.

In Nouakchott, Macron held talks with the leaders of the French-backed five-nation military force fighting Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the Sahel.

Niger and Chad, where France has a sizeable military presence, are part of the “G5 Sahel” group, which has faced a rise in attacks in recent days.


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