New French President Visits Mali in First Trip Outside Europe

PARIS French President Emmanuel Macron will meet unions on Tuesday to discuss labour reform, his office said on Sunday.

France, which has been hard hit by Islamist attacks resulting in more than 230 deaths in its territory in the past two years, remains in a state of emergency and its military has about 4,000 soldiers deployed in five countries in the Sahel, including Mali and Niger.

In his remarks, Mali's president expressed willingness to extend cooperation to France in countering terrorism.

Back in 2015, the Malian government signed a peace agreement with the Tuareg rebels in order to isolate the jihadist groups.

In a brief statement beforehand, Macron said France and Italy share much common ground and noted the challenges Italy has faced with the arrival of large numbers of migrants.

To that end, France promised "constant" military, diplomatic and political support with the help of the French Development Agency (AFD), he said. The poll showed that 62 percent of people were satisfied with Macron, which is just above his predecessor Francois Hollande's 61 percent rating in May 2012.

According to French scholars Emmanuel Todd and Hervé Le Bras, zombie Catholicism is commonly seen in areas of France such as Macron's Brittany, where the religion appears to have fallen dormant but still remains active in the collective consciousness. A French-led military intervention pushed the extremists from their strongholds in 2013, but the fighters continue to target Malian and other military assets with suicide bombings, improvised explosives and kidnappings.

Macron added that the terror threat in West Africa is "clearly a risk for Europe". Germany now contributes 550 troops to the multi-national United Nations force in Mali, called MINUSMA.

He has already visited German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Stationed there since July 2013, it has just over 12,000 military and police personnel working on what is considered the UN's most risky active peacekeeping deployment.

During his campaign, Macron spoke of his desire to re-calibrate France's role on the African continent.

As a candidate, he stirred controversy at home by labelling France's colonial war in Algeria a crime against humanity - something which was well-received in the former colonies.

  • Leroy Wright