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Benin: Macron in Cotonou, discusses culture and security with Patrice Talon

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes the hand of Beninese President Patrice Talon at the Presidential Palace during an official visit in Cotonou on July 27, 2022.   -  
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After Cameroon, now a stop in Benin. French president Emmanuel Macron has met with his Beninese counter part Patrice Talon in Cotonou.

The meeting on  Wednesday continued with a visit to an exhibition on Beninese art through the ages- a highly symbolic exhibition after the restitution of bronzes to Benin dating from the 16th to 18th centuries that were stolen by various colonial powers.

The subject of security also features prominently in this visit with Cotonou expected to make requests for support with the increase in sporadic incursions by terrorist groups for months in northern Benin.

In May, Beninese authorities said they had recorded nearly twenty attacks by armed groups since the end of 2021.

The French president's trip to Africa is seen as one of the priorities of his second five-year term, in the face of competition from China and Russia, but by betting on "soft power" rather than on politics or military, the traditional tools of influence of France. 

But it has also come with criticisms in Africa and back in France where several left-wing MPs have alerted Emmanuel Macron to the "authoritarian excesses" in Benin and the "alarming" situation of political prisoners.

Emmanuel Macron will end his first African tour since his re-election in Guinea-Bissau.

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