Chirac says goodbye to African leaders

Feb. 18, 2007 at 12:14 PM   |   Comments

CANNES, France, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- More than 30 African heads of state bid farewell to outgoing French President Jacques Chirac at a summit in Cannes.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that 48 of Africa's 53 nations were represented at Chirac's 24th Franco-African Summit. Some were unsure Chirac's successor, who will be elected in May, would be interested in Africa.

"As far as I'm concerned neither of them understand anything about Africa," Omar Bongo, the president of Gabon, said in the Sunday Telegraph of candidates Segolene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy.

"Jacques Chirac genuinely believes in Africa and believes in the development of Africa. The new generation of politicians (hasn't) the same contacts and will approach Africa with less emotion and more economic considerations," Jean-Paul Gourevitch, the author of "France in Africa" and an adviser to the French government on Africa, told the newspaper.

Not all of Africa's leaders were at Chirac's French Riviera summit. Among those missing the event was Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who holds France responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, who has accused Chirac of taking sides in internal affairs in his country, the Sunday Telegraph said.

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