Talking in Cameroon, French president asks historians to analyze the previous and set up ‘obligations’.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has mentioned the archives on French colonial rule in Cameroon can be opened “in full” and requested historians to make clear the interval’s “painful moments”.
Macron, talking within the Cameroonian capital Yaounde on Tuesday, mentioned he needed historians from each nations to work collectively on investigating the previous and set up “obligations”.
French colonial authorities brutally repressed armed Cameroonian nationalists earlier than the nation’s independence in 1960.
Tens of hundreds of supporters of the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC) occasion, together with independence chief Ruben Um Nyobe, had been killed by the French military.
The Cameroonian military beneath the nation’s first post-independence chief Ahmadou Ahidjo additionally killed UPC fighters.
Former President Francois Hollande in 2015 conceded that France’s colonial previous in Cameroon introduced “tragic” moments and mentioned he was open to opening the archives.
A gaggle of Cameroonian political events on Monday referred to as on Macron to recognise the “crimes” France dedicated through the colonial period.
Macron’s feedback got here on the first leg of a trip to three African countries the place he hopes to reset France’s relations with the continent, the place many countries are former French colonies.
The French chief is because of journey to Benin on Wednesday earlier than ending his journey in Guinea-Bissau.
The 44-year-old has made concerted efforts to show the web page on painful episodes in France’s previous.
The primary French president born after Algeria’s bitter and protracted independence battle ended, Macron referred to as the colonisation of the nation “a criminal offense in opposition to humanity” and mentioned it was time France “seemed our previous within the face”.
He additionally commissioned a report by Algerian-born French historian Benjamin Stora on the colonial period within the North African nation, though he ruled out making an official apology.
In 2021, France returned more than a dozen artefacts looted from Benin by colonial forces in 1892, soothing a supply of friction between Paris and its former colony.
Meals disaster considered one of Russia’s ‘weapons of battle’
Macron additionally described the worldwide meals disaster as considered one of Russia’s “weapons of battle” throughout his go to to Cameroon, dismissing ideas Western sanctions had been in charge.
Cameroon, like many creating nations, is grappling with sharp will increase in costs for oil, fertiliser and foodstuffs. Extreme gas shortages hit the capital Yaounde final week resulting in lengthy queues at petrol stations.
Macron’s tour of Africa can also be meant to assist increase agricultural manufacturing amid the rising meals insecurity linked to the battle in Ukraine.
African governments have largely prevented taking sides and refused to affix Western condemnation and sanctions.
On the identical time, anti-French sentiment is rising in France’s former West African colonies, the place safety issues following a string of coups are stoking frustration and swinging public opinion in favour of Russia.
“We’re blamed by some who say that European sanctions [on Russia] are the reason for the world meals disaster, together with in Africa. It’s completely false,” Macron mentioned throughout a gathering with the French neighborhood in Cameroon.
“Meals, like power, have turn into Russian weapons of battle … We should assist the African continent to supply extra for itself,” Macron mentioned.
Many African nations are depending on Russian grain and power, however in addition they purchase Ukrainian grain, which has been disrupted by the battle.
Moscow has denied accountability for the meals disaster, blaming Western sanctions for slowing its meals and fertiliser exports and Ukraine for mining the approaches to its ports.
Cameroon, a mineral-rich Central African nation, is a major meals producer for the area and Macron’s delegation will search funding alternatives within the agricultural sector by a Meals and Agriculture Resilience Mission initiative launched in March with the African Union to spice up meals manufacturing.