French president Francois Hollande arrived in Nigeria on Friday, for a security summit on regional military cooperation in fighting Boko Haram. Hollande had paid a brief visit to CAR as France winds down a peacekeeping mission in the conflict-ravaged country, before heading to Abuja.
Two years after the first summit in Paris, the discussions this time will focus on the success of military operations underway and a quick resolution of the humanitarian crisis.
The summit will also involve heads of states from, Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, as well as delegations from regional and international organizations.
The discussions would also address the humanitarian impact of the conflict that has claimed more than 20,000 lives since 2009 and forced more than 2.6 million others to flee their homes.
Three years ago, France deployed some 2,000 soldiers to quell the conflict in Central African Republic (CAR). Deutsche Welle reports that the French mission known as “Operation Sangaris” has now been downsized to 650 men. In 2014, French troops were accused of sexual misconduct in CAR. Despite President Hollande’s pledge to follow up the allegations, no action was taken.
Deutsche Welle (DW) further reports that this is unlikely to change as a result of Friday’s brief visit to CAR, according Roland Marchal, a senior research fellow at the Center for International Studies based in Paris. In an interview with DW, he said France is more interested in aiding CAR’s economic recovery and empowering the leadership of the new president, Faustin Archange Touadera.