French President Emmanuel Macron has once again resorted to outspoken language as a tool of diplomatic strategy, this time targeting the president of the Central African Republic (CAR).
He described Faustin-Archange Touadéra as a “hostage” of Wagner, a Russian military contractor that has been helping the CAR government fight rebels threatening to overrun the capital, Bangui.
Paris is also angered by the anti-French social media messages that emanate from sources close to Mr Touadéra, stirring up resentment against the former colonial power.
It was the intervention by French and African troops in 2013 that saved CAR from a potentially genocidal civil conflict and created the conditions for the democratic elections that brought Mr Touadéra to power in 2016.
But the CAR now relies heavily on Russian military expertise and has also signed mining deals with Russia, allowing it to explore for gold, diamonds and uranium. Uneasy about the lurch towards Moscow and angered by the anti-French rhetoric, Mr Macron has suspended budget support for the CAR government.
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