French President Emmanuel Macron is on a three-day tour of Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, and Ghana, in an attempt to boost France’s regional influence in West Africa, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported on Tuesday.
However, a grenade attack on French troops in the capital Ouagadougou on Monday shortly before Macron touched down in Burkina Faso marred the first leg of his trip.
The attack left three civilians wounded after two hooded individuals on a motorcycle threw a grenade towards a French army vehicle as it made its way to the barracks of French Special Forces, missing the military vehicle but damaging a civilian car.
Stemming the African continent’s migrant exodus and bolstering the fight against violent Islamists in the Sahel region is expected to dominate the president’s tour as he pushes for a partnership based on education and entrepreneurship.
Macron is seeking international backing for a new, five-nation African counter-terrorism force, which France hopes to see eventually take over the fight against jihadist groups in the Sahel.
A shooting spree by jihadists in Ouagadougou in January 2016 left 20 people dead and a similar assault in August killed 19.
French Special Forces have been present in the country since 2010 to help regional governments tackle jihadist violence in the Sahel, particularly in neighbouring Mali.
Macron held talks with his Burkinese counterpart Roch Marc Christian Kabore and was expected to deliver a speech to students at the University of Ougadougou.
On Wednesday he leaves for the Ivory Coast, where the fifth Europe-Africa summit will bring together more than 80 leaders from the two continents.
Macron will also inaugurate the city's colossal metro project, funded by a $1.6-billion French loan before heading to Ghana, a former British colony.
- African News Agency (ANA)