Over the main changes that have occurred in Chirac’s last 12 years in office, some important patterns of French policy towards the African continent can be highlighted. First, Chirac’s attitude to Africa for the most part has been consistent, although perforce it has adapted to specific conditions. These included ‘cohabitation’ (the cabinet led by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in 1997-2002); the reassertion of United States influence in Africa after the World Trade Centre attack in September 2001; and the trauma in France that followed the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Secondly, there has been a growing discrepancy between French economic interests and development aid. While such aid is still mostly directed to the former French colonies, economic interests have evolved in a different direction, with stronger emphasis on countries such as South Africa and Nigeria that have no colonial or linguistic relationship with France. Thirdly, the institutions that were supposed to frame and implement African policy are undergoing a reform process that as yet is incomplete and the efficiency and consistency of which is doubtful.
Keywords : Chirac, France, Foreign Policy, Africa