World, Africa, Europe

Ivory Coast: France to inaugurate military academy

Academy to focus on regional strategies against extremism

James Tasamba   | 21.12.2019
Ivory Coast: France to inaugurate military academy File Photo

KIGALI, Rwanda

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Ivorian counterpart Alassane Ouattara will inaugurate Saturday an international counter-terrorism academy in first leg of Macron’s West Africa tour.

The International Counter-Terrorism Academy near Ivorian economic capital Abidjan will focus on regional strategies and training those involved in the fight against extremism, according to the French presidency.

Macron arrived in Ivory Coast on Friday and was met at the airport by Ouattara, and then headed to the French military base in the country.

Together with his wife Brigitte Macron, the French president attended a Christmas dinner he offered in honor of all French soldiers, their families and a delegation of Ivorian soldiers.

“We will keep up the fight against jihadist terrorists. We will continue to do so with our African partners and with our European and international partners because if we let the threat flourish, it will impact us too,” Ivorian media quoted Macron telling the troops at Port-Bouet.

This is Macron's second visit to Ivory Coast since the start of his term. The first took place in November 2017 at the European Union-African Union Summit.

This weekend’s tour comes almost a year ahead of Ivorian presidential election slated for October 2020.

Ivory Coast is not only home to a French military base, but also the region’s economic powerhouse.

A historical partner with huge interest, France maintains some 4,500 military personnel stationed throughout West and Central Africa -- where "jihadists" have carried out recurring attacks this year against local troops in Mali and Niger as well as extending into Burkina Faso.

On Sunday, Macron will travel to Niger's capital Niamey where he will meet President Mahamadou Issoufou and stop by the Niger airbase -- where over 70 soldiers of the country, killed in a recent attack on Inates, were buried.

Macron will also pay tribute to all the Malian, Burkinabe and Nigerien victims of terrorism.

Niger is part of a five-nation task force known as the G5 -- established in 2014 with Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Chad in the wake of militant attacks.

After an attack on Niger’s military, Macron was compelled to postpone until next year a meeting with five presidents from the Sahel region. The meeting had been scheduled for this December in the southwestern French town of Pau to discuss security in the region.

The Sahel region, the arid area on the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert, has witnessed unprecedented levels of violence since 2015, with militant groups seeking to extend their influence across West Africa.

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