Senegal's President Faye travels to France for first international visit

By Melissa Chemam with RFI

Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye is traveling to France this week for his first official visit outside of Africa. He will participate in the Global Forum for Vaccine Sovereignty and Innovation and meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Faye, who was inaugurated on 2 April, said he would be travelling to France, Wednesday.

He will first take part in the Global Forum for Vaccine Sovereignty and Innovation in Paris, scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday), which aims to give Africa more sovereignty to address the many health crises it faces.

The Forum has two objectives. The first one is to launch the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA).

Based on the lessons learned from the Covid pandemic, the mechanism is an important step in giving African countries health sovereignty. It aims to do this by helping the  African Union to meet its goal of manufacturing at least 60% of the vaccine doses needed by Africa on the African continent by 2040.

The second objective is to mark the start of Gavi's replenishment campaign for 2026-2030.

Gavi's replenishment campaign is an initiative to secure financial commitments from donor governments, private sector partners, foundations, and other stakeholders to fund its vaccination programs for a specific period, usually five years. 

Gavi itself, officially known as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is a global health partnership that aims to increase access to immunization in poor countries. 

First presidential meeting

The Senegalese head of state has also been invited to lunch by his French counterpart,  Emmanuel Macron.

Faye is coming to France for the summit, but it is not a surprise that it is the first country in Europe that he will vist, analyst Pape Ibrahima Kane said., as the two countries have a long relationship.

"The context is not very good though," he told RFI, "as the situation for President Macron is difficult in France, and for Senegal, the state of the economy is not great. [However] Senegal remains, after Côte d'Ivoire, one of the most important partners in Africa for France."

He added that France needs to take African opposition politicians and political parties seriously, as they have the potential to win elections and come to power. This is exemplified by Senegalese Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko

"Senegal wants to rethink the relations with France," he says, "but to do so discussions are necessary."

Senegal and France have historically maintained strong political and economic relations, despite France's long colonial rule over Senegal, which lasted until 1960.

Faye, as a left-wing pan-Africanist, however, has insisted the partnership should from now on be mutually beneficial.

Reclaiming sovereignty

In May, Senegal's Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko said his country's wish to determine its path was "incompatible with the entrenched presence of foreign military bases" on Senegalese soil.

French news agency AFP reported on  on Monday that the French government would be reducing the number of soldiers stationed in West and Central African nations, including Senegal.

Paris will reduce the number of soldiers posted to Senegal from 350 to around 100.

 (with AFP) 

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