Letter: Ivory Coast and France both seek to reform their relationship

David Pilling and colleagues’ speculative take on my country’s politics and international relations bears little resemblance to reality (“Thiam’s name floated in Elysée talks to defuse Ivory Coast tensions”, October 8).

I accompanied President Alassane Ouattara on his trip to Paris last month, which included a cordial working lunch with President Emmanuel Macron. Neither head of state conforms to the caricatures of your report and their conversation did not stray into this territory.

Mr Macron has disavowed the tenets of Françafrique under which Paris interfered in the internal affairs of its former colonies. In Ivory Coast, this extended to the French ambassador having a private tunnel linking his office directly to the presidency — an intolerable arrangement in any sovereign state. Mr Macron worked in west Africa prior to entering politics, and therefore understands the need to respect decisions taken in regional capitals, rather than overtly promote French interests.

Mr Ouattara has similarly sought to break with the past, taking steps to hand power to a new generation. The head of state endorsed prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly as his successor and the party’s presidential candidate in March. However, Gon Coulibaly’s sudden and tragic death in July changed matters.

Mr Ouattara is now putting his reputation on the line to safeguard Ivorian stability. And, contrary to the article’s assertion, his eligibility to run for re-election has been validated by our nation’s highest court.

This nuance is not lost on the Elysée Palace, which seeks a constructive relationship with Ivory Coast. Indeed, the two governments have co-operated closely in reforming the CFA franc to pave the way for a new west African currency.

Mr Macron travelled to Abidjan last December, endorsing Mr Ouattara’s vision for the “eco” despite the fact this removes a requirement for African countries to maintain foreign reserves at the Banque de France and an oversight role for French treasury representatives.

In light of the above, your readers might ask whether there is any truth in allegations that Mr Macron was meddling in Ivorian affairs last month. I can assure them, he was not.

Patrick Achi
Minister of State, Secretary-General of the Presidency of Ivory Coast, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

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