Politicians question France’s doctrine in Africa amid Gabon coup

While radical left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon accused French President Emmanuel Macron of having supported incumbent president Ali Bongo until the end, Marine Le Pen pointed to the- in her words- pitiful results of the government’s African policy.

In Gabon, Ali Bongo, the incumbent president whose re-election was declared on Wednesday morning, was overthrown by a military coup. Officials announced that the elections would be cancelled and that it was the “end of the regime” of Ali Bongo.

The leader of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, lamented on X that “no warning [had] been heard” and that “Gabon was only able to get rid of its presidential puppet by military intervention”.

At a time when “Africans are turning the page”, “Macron has, once again, compromised France by supporting [Ali Bongo] until the end”.

In a lengthy post on X, the leader of the Rassemblement National, Marine Le Pen, asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs to “clarify what France’s doctrine is in its relations with this historically friendly country”, pointing to “the incompetence that characterises your African policy”.

“How coherent is your African policy when we see the pitiful results in Chad, Mali, Niger and now in one of the most historically Francophile countries in Africa?” asked the former presidential candidate.

Former Socialist President François Hollande, speaking on France Info on Wednesday, noted that this was the region’s fifth coup d’état in three years. “There was not a sufficient reaction, including from France, but from the international community and ECOWAS when the first coup d’état took place in Mali”, he analysed.

While Macron was already president during the two successive coups d’état in Mali (2020 and 2021), “there was a form of acceptance of the coups”, Hollande said.

Government and Macron remain cautious
Macron’s last trip to Gabon, for a summit on the protection of tropical forests in March was criticised by opponents of Ali Bongo and interpreted by some as support for him.

At the time, however, Macron tried to forestall or counter, these accusations by declaring that “France is a neutral interlocutor, which speaks to everyone and whose role is not to interfere in domestic political affairs”.

“I have not come to invest anyone. I only came to show my friendship and consideration for a brotherly country and people”, added Macron at the time.

Today, French institutions remain largely silent. The French Foreign Affairs Ministry, asked by EURACTIV France, did not wish to comment on the situation, nor did the Presidency of the Republic.