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Senegal Prime Minister Foresees Expelling French Military, Dumping CFA Franc

Senegalese Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko has suggested closing French military bases in the country, claiming their long-term presence is incompatible with the West African nation’s desire for complete control over its affairs, RT reported recently. The minister made his remarks at a joint conference with French left-wing politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon in Senegal’s capital Dakar on May 16.

“More than 60 years after our independence ... we must question the reasons why the French army for example still benefits from several military bases in our country and the impact of this presence on our national sovereignty and our strategic autonomy,” Sonko said.

France currently has about 350 troops in Senegal after it began downsizing the contingent of 1,200 based there in 2010. Critics have condemned the troops’ presence as a continuation of French dominance over the former colony, despite independence in 1960.

Sonko also declared that Senegal would deepen relations with the coup-installed governments in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. “We will not let go of our brothers in the Sahel and we will do everything necessary to strengthen the ties,” the Prime Minister stated.

He also said Senegal, which shares the euro-pegged CFA franc currency with seven other countries, would prefer a flexible currency to help absorb shocks and boost export competitiveness. President Bassirou Diomaye Faye had initially pledged to abandon the CFA franc during the election campaign, but later backtracked.

Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali have hinted at ditching the CFA franc in favor of a common currency, which move Niger has called a “step out of colonization.”