Tunisia, Egypt, Libya: the boomerang effect in France

In a previous post, I discussed the recent Tunisian travel of Michèle Alliot-Marie, the French Foreign Minister. Yesterday, she officially resigned. Why? There is a direct link between the recent democratic upheavals in Northern Africa and French politics.

Indeed, the strong relationship between French politicians and dictators in French former colonies was illustrated in January when Alliot-Marie offered help to Ben Ali’s regime to quell the demonstrations. Bad luck! She desperately tried to fight back but it was too late. Last week, a brave group of French diplomats, self-styled “le groupe Marly”, wrote an anonymous letter to the French president wondering why he would not listen to them. According to them he is too “amateurish”.

Sarkozy had to listen and, last night, he reshuffled the government. Alliot-Marie, who has committed many gaffes, had to resign. Since the beginning of the French Fifth Republic in 1958, French domestic policies have very much relied on international affairs. The quest for prestige abroad has real political significance in France. This can explain how events which started in Tunisia at the end of December 2010 provoked the downfall of a French Foreign Minister.

Luckily for the French, the former Prime Minister Alain Juppé is their new Foreign Minister. The latter was only sentenced for abuse of public funds in 2004 before his sentence was suspended on appeal. Luckily for the French, Alliot-Marie can have her parliamentary seat back after all her gaffes. Luckily for the people of my hometown, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, she is still their deputy mayor.

Vincent Hiribarren


About perspectivesonafrica

Research and news about Africa
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