President Emmanuel Macron of France is headed back to the African continent on Wednesday, this time for another stop in Algeria before he continues on to Qatar for an official state visit.
Macron is expected to meet with both longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who returned to the position in August amid Algeria’s economic woes. The French president also plans a working dinner with Abdelkader Bensalah, the head of the Algerian legislature. The agenda includes a luncheon with civil society leaders and a visit with the French community in Algeria.
Macron plans to continue his emphasis on youth, which was a priority during his recent visits to Burkina Faso, Ghana and the African Union-European Union summit in Côte d’Ivoire. Since taking office in May, Macron has made clear his interest in a fresh start for France’s relationship with the African continent, with an emphasis on development and youth that follow from his campaign promises.
When Macron traveled to Algeria as a presidential candidate earlier this year, he sparked controversy with remarks about France’s colonialism that described it in terms of crimes against humanity. “It is in our interest to write a new page in our relationship with Africa,” Macron explained. “That’s why I want to set an ambitious partnership between France, Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa that strengthens our mutual interests in all areas: climate, trade, employment, innovation, but also security and stability.”
Security and migration remain top of mind, and he plans to discuss the ongoing situation in the Sahel and Libya – a neighborhood that creates uncertainty for Algeria in both security and diplomacy. That uncertainty is heightened by the 80-year-old Bouteflika’s advancing years and poor health, and the potential for a leadership transition during Algeria’s 2019 presidential elections.
Image: President Emmanuel Macron file