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Françafrique is a term that refers to France's relationship with Africa. It was first used in a positive sense by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d'Ivoire, who advocated maintaining a close relationship with Europe and the West, France in particular. Close cooperation between Houphouët-Boigny and Jacques Foccart, chief adviser on African policy in the Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou governments (1958-1974) is thought to have contributed to the "Ivorian miracle" of economic and industrial progress.

The term was subsequently borrowed by François-Xavier Verschave as the title of his criticism of French policies in Africa: La Françafrique, le plus long scandale de la République (ISBN 2234049482).

Verschave later defined Françafrique as "the secret criminality in the upper echelons of French politics and economy, where a kind of underground Republic is hidden from view". He said that it also means "France à fric" (fric is a slang word for "cash"), and that "Over the course of four decades, hundreds of thousands of euros misappropriated from debt, aid, oil, cocoa... or drained through French importing monopolies, have financed French political-business networks (all of them offshoots of the main neo-Gaullist network), shareholders’ dividends, the secret services’ major operations and mercenary expeditions."[1]

In response to a question from a journalist from Le Monde in January 2008, the former French Secretary of State for Overseas Development, Jean-Marie Bockel, said that he wants to "sign the death certificate of Françafrique". [2] However, the French press continued to use the term, when, for instance, it reported President Nicolas Sarkozy as saying that the French government would not intervene in the elections for a new President of Gabon.[3]

The policy has become in the spotlight once more after January 8 attacks on Togo national football team. France has been accused of meddling into Angolan affairs through backing of separatist groups such as Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda and harboring their leaders.[4]

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