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French President Emmanuel Macron attends the state funeral for the late Chadian President Idriss Deby French President Emmanuel Macron, center, attends the state funeral for the late Chadian President Idriss Deby, with Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, in N’Djamena, Chad, April 23, 2021 (pool photo by Christophe Petit Tesson via AP).

France’s Double Standard on Democracy in Africa

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

It all started in late April with an open letter written by a group of 20 retired French generals and published in a right-wing weekly news magazine, Valeurs Actuelles, known for its inflammatory provocations. Describing France as teetering on the edge of civil war, the letter called on France’s civilian leadership to take action so the military wouldn’t have to.

With its reference to the threats posed by “Islamism and the hordes from the banlieues”—France’s peri-urban ghettos—and a form of anti-racism that “despises our country, its traditions, its culture,” the letter was more foghorn than dog whistle when it comes to the culture wars that have wracked France over the past year. And though the retired generals did not explicitly call for a military coup, the significance of the date their letter was published was lost on no one: April 21, the 60th anniversary of the failed 1961 putsch against then-President Charles de Gaulle in response to his decision to end the war, and with it French colonial rule, in Algeria. ...

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