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Last Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Africa lukewarm over Sarkozy win
By David Bamford
BBC News

Nicolas Sarkozy
Mr Sarkozy said he would be president of all the French

African leaders are congratulating Nicolas Sarkozy following his victory in the French presidential elections.

President Bouteflika of Algeria said the French people had chosen "a man of action", President Wade of Senegal called it "a brilliant election".

But the messages have been lukewarm at best, reflecting the uncertainty his win brings for French ties with Africa.

Mr Sarkozy has spoken of reforms in France's relationship with Africa, in particular over immigration and trade.

Some African leaders are concerned Mr Sarkozy's notions of reform could be a double-edged sword with uncertain consequences for the continent.

Ties

Mr Sarkozy lacks the personal contacts in Africa and the Middle East that Jacques Chirac and Francois Mitterrand enjoyed before and during their presidencies.

But he inherits some key economic relationships particularly with some of France's former colonies.

There are still French military bases in Africa and occasional military interventions to prop up leaders such as recently in Chad.

And there are many African migrants either living in France or trying to get there.

France has given me everything, and now it is my turn to give back to France what France has given me
Nicolas Sarkozy

During his political rise, Mr Sarkozy often angered Africans, especially during the French riots in 2005 when he described as rabble the African and Arab migrants from the poor suburbs involved in the unrest.

Mr Sarkozy was the target of hostile demonstrations when he visited Benin and Mali last year.

But he wants to improve his standing on the continent.

He says his first major overseas trip after his election will be to Africa.

His victory speech referred to vanquishing famine and poverty, and working with African countries on France's controlled immigration policies.

He also referred to ambitious African development, particularly in North Africa.

He spoke of building a Mediterranean Union with the achievements of the European Union in mind.




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