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This series explores the dark and dramatic history of France’s relationships with its former African colonies. The last episode of this series outlines France’s gradual loss of power in its former colonies – some called it reverse colonisation; others called it independence.
African leaders, well aware of France’s need for their countries’ resources, adopted the same manipulation tactics once used on them.
I came to the conclusion that we were in a situation of reverse colonisation. France was being colonised by Gabon and not the other way around.
Pierre Marion, The former director of the French Secret Service
So, after supporting a war in Biafra, overthrowing several presidents, collapsing Guinea’s economy and bribing leaders to support its interests, France started to lose the control that it once exercised in Africa.
Some African leaders insisted on selecting French ministers and ambassadors. And presidents like Omar Bongo of Gabon and Mamadou Tandja of Niger realised that they could leverage their natural resources to sway French decision-making.
Bongo threatened to sign drilling contracts with the Americans when Elf temporarily closed its Port-Gentil wells. And Tandja claimed he would hand over control of Niger’s largest uranium mine to the Chinese if France refused to agree to an increase in the price of uranium.
Protests against France escalated to violence in several countries.
Although France’s control over its former colonies had weakened, the colonies still needed French investors – and this reliance allows some networks to persist today.
– Al Jazeera