French president Emmanuel Macron, who is currently on an East African tour of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, on Tuesday called for a ‘reasonable duration’ to the transition period in Algeria.
Macron, who started his tour in Djibouti, said president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to abandon his quest for a fifth term in power opened a new chapter in Algeria’s history.
Bouteflika late on Monday bowed to weeks of mass demonstrations against his 20-year rule but also postponed an election due in April, promising social and economic reforms in the former French colony.
Macron gave no details on what he considered a reasonable transition period.
In Djibouti, Macron is on a mission to reassert the influence of the French in their former colony, amidst fears that China is expanding its economic and military influence across the continent.
Djibouti, strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal, hosts France’s largest naval base on the continent and is home to some 1,400 personnel used to train African troops as well as to monitor the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
Djibouti also hosts a U.S. military base used as a launch pad for operations in Yemen and Somalia, but in 2013, China opened its largest overseas military base in the country rivaling Paris and Washington directly.
“France considered Djibouti for too long to be a territory that was won,” said a senior French diplomat based in the region.
“But now the competition from China is fierce.”
In recent years, Beijing has provided economic aid, developed industrial production in the country and invested massively in high-profile public infrastructure projects, including restoring a French-made railway from 1917 linking Djibouti to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa
On Wednesday morning, he will meet with the leaders of the African Union and then travel to Kenya, the last leg of his trip, where he will stay until Thursday.
He will attend the summit for the Climate One Planet Summit and sign contracts with Kenyan leaders totalling €3 billion.