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Sun Jan 20, 2013, 03:14 PM

France and Mali: An 'ironic' relationship

For as long as I have been covering French news, which is more than 20 years now, there has been a constant refrain that it is time to move away from the old idea of what they call here La Francafrique.

La Francafrique was the network of interests that France left behind in Africa when it pulled out as a colonial power.

At its best, it was a benign attempt to extend the benefits of trade and development, and keep French-speaking Africa part of France's cultural sphere.

At its worst, it was a rotten system that served established interests - in France as well as in African states - with, at its heart, a devil's bargain: you stay tame and send us your minerals, and when we need it, under-the-counter cash. In return, from time-to-time, we will send in French troops to save your presidential mightiness from the mob.


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