West Africa

BBC News is reporting that French President Francois Hollande is embarking on a three-day tour of West Africa. The president will be accompanied by 50 French business leaders who hope to take advantage of the Ivorian economy’s strong growth rate of between 8% and 9% in recent years. The French-language news magazine Jeune Afrique says there are about 200 French subsidiaries and some 400 small and medium French firms in Ivory Coast.

In addition to business interests, France intervened in a post-election (2010) conflict lead by former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept defeat.  3,000 people were killed in post-election violence. The International Criminal Court said last month that it had enough evidence to put Gbagbo on trial for war crimes. Gbagbo refutes the claims.

President Holland’s visit will also include Niger and Chad where he will make final decisions about the French military presence in the Sahel region. The author writes:

“France believes that armed groups in the Sahel are not only a threat to West African countries but also to Europe and intends to keep 3,000 troops there under a regional command structure based in Chad.”

During this trip, President Hollande intends to finalize a counter-terrorism plan to combat Islamist militant groups.

Read more at BBC News.

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