(6 Dec 2021) Regional security and the pandemic were at the top of the agenda on the first day of the Dakar International Forum for Peace and Security on Monday.
“We share common vulnerabilities” said Senegalese president Macky Sall during the opening ceremony in Diamniadio near Dakar, calling for “international solidarity and collective security”.
The event was also attended by Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and France’s Defence Minister Florence Parly, among others.
Ramaphosa once again criticized the travel restrictions imposed on South Africa and other African nations recalling words used by the U.N. Secretary-General who called such measures “travel apartheid.”
The South African president said that the restrictions are punishing the very people and community that also helped inform the world of a new coronavirus variant.
France’s Defence Minister Florence Parly on Monday commented on the reduction of French troops in the region, saying it did not mean that Paris will abandon the Sahel.
Parly also talked about the protests in recent weeks against the presence of the French military in the region.
“France has no hidden agenda in the Sahel and to pretend otherwise is to make a breeding ground for terrorism” she said.
Protesters in Burkina Faso blocked a French military convoy that was traveling to Niger in November.
The convoy faced similar demonstrations in Niger where protesters clashed with security forces.
Anti-French protests also took place in Mali and other countries in the region in the past months.
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