Monday, May 30, 2011

FRANCE - François Mitterrand, a disappointment African

Africa commemorates its way thirty years from the accession to power of François Mitterrand. Indeed, context is marked by intense elections on the continent. As he had recommended in his famous and now historic speech in La Baule in 1990, secured the support of democracy. But today, what else does it effect Mitterrand? Can we venture to say that the continent has advanced in terms of democracy? Without doubt the passage of Mitterrand he scored the world.

In his way, he contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall, allowing the primer to the end of the Cold War. But it is in the former colonies in Africa that the French statesman has left the most traces. For Mitterrand, it is also this: consistency in the defense of French interests. There it is used so that some wondered if it belonged to the right or left.

It was forgotten that France will never give up its turf on the continent. The man knew how to seduce his interlocutors and crowds. A lawyer by training and profession, he also knew how to rally the world in defense of causes they believed sometimes lost. Fierce opponent of years he had dreamed of such holders in Africa and other progressive ideals slingers who never ceased to haunt the sleep of dictators.

So his election in 1981 she had raised hopes of real opponents African side. Many expected him to this radical change in African diplomacy of Elysium, which would allow the beginning of a true democracy together with an effective improvement of socioeconomic conditions on the continent, especially the French part.

The expected break never happened. Once in power, Mitterrand try to remember in practice that "France has no friends but interests", as is proclaimed since the time of General de Gaulle. Gradually, Mitterrand accept some situations on the continent. Contrary to expectations, and without embarrassment, he gave more strength to French Africa.

Openly, he teams up with the old oligarchies who sucked the blood of African countries. The former French trading posts and the multinational Hexagon continued their looting. At Heads of State, dinosaurs like Houphouet-Boigny in Ivory Coast, Paul Biya in Cameroon, Omar Bongo in Gabon, Denis Sassou Congo and Mobutu in Zaire [DRC since 1997] had the wind in their sails.

In contrast, the late Thomas Sankara intrepid as Burkina Faso, were met with a donor of lessons without pity for all those who, in his view, had attitudes full of impertinence. It took until 1990 to see Mitterrand formally give the tone of the necessary democratization of the continent, lest the help evaporate.

This cunning "historical opponent of France" had divined through intensified struggles that African peoples were walking towards a certain victory. He was maneuvering to recover the situation. Hence the many sovereign national conferences that were to help, through a multi-front to better support the free expression of people angry.

Encouraged by the complicit silence of the good or Paris, then African governments undertook to retain or regain power in favor of legislation tailored. Transformed according to the taste of the day, single parties organized themselves so to win "handily" cleverly rigged elections. This, at the expense of opposition parties poorly organized, divided and lacking in resources, in a context of poverty and illiteracy screaming unheard.

With regret, we then discovered the other face of Mitterrand: Socialist occupant of the Elysee did not seem to worry about the interests of the broad masses of Africa. According to the interests of France, it did not hesitate to support dictatorships and unpopular regimes on the continent.

Most of these leaders had understood that to have peace, it should be in the good graces of Paris. What has brought Mitterrand to Africans? Undoubtedly, the late leader of the French state was a reference to many African intellectuals, devotees of his socialism with a human face. Nevertheless, in most cases, they have struggled to gain support for the real application, home, elementary principles of socialism.

Certainly, with the La Baule speech, Mitterrand has courageously advocating democratization and encourage many heads of state to engage in this perilous to the survival of their regimes. But French advisers were always there to help them to never leave, on behalf of the interests ... French! A real right-wing political leader for a classified left! Both positions taken by Obama in the United States settle their clarity, as have those of Mitterrand often appeared ambiguous.

An ambiguity that has benefited many African heads of state at the time, which were lukewarm to the idea of democracy to settle in their respective countries. Some have nevertheless played the game in Benin and Mali, among others, the course looks promising. What to ask what would become Africa without the speech at La Baule.

But should we hold responsible for what Mitterrand fate of attempts at democratization in Francophone Africa? Certainly not. He has done his duty to defend somehow the interests of France. As in Rwanda, to support President Habyarimana and to defeat those that endangered the French influence in the Great Lakes.

Still, today, in most cases, democratization remains weak in Francophone Africa. Thirty years after the advent of Mitterrand to power in France, twenty-one years after his speech at La Baule and fifteen years after the death of former French president, the toll remains certainly mixed.

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