Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 09:21:37 -0500
Sender: H-NET List for African History <>
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996
From: Peter Limb <>
[RPT] Africa-Press
Africa: Weekly Press Review

On the Death of Mitterrand

By Olu Sarr, Weekly Press Review, 24 January 1996

DAKAR, Senegal (PANA)—In death, Mr. Francois Mitterrand looms large to many but to others his political image remains forever tarnished and the French-language African media reflected these feelings.

This statesman, with his exceptional qualities, deserves—in view of the services he rendered to France, Europe, Africa and to Mankind at large—to be cited among this century's greatest men, Le Matin (Cotonou, Benin) said.

The pro-Benin government daily La Nation added: Africa will keep the image of President Mitterrand as the man who delivered the historic speech at the Summit of La Baule in which he linked economic aid with democratisation, and in which he stood out as the defender of the weakest, despite a few controversial actions, namely [French policy and action] in Rwanda.

Dakar's Walfadjri agreed.

When Africa was confronted with the cold logic of World Bank and the International Monetary Fund technocrats—and to the free market theories championed by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher—Mitterrand fought hard to keep Africa at the heart of international affairs, it said.

The semi-official Daily Sketch of Ibadan, Nigeria, paid a glowing tribute to Mr. Mitterrand.

He was a man who never gave up easily. Like he told an interviewer in 1981, a few months into his presidency: ‘everything is a struggle, everything requires courage, effort’, it said.

So, it continued, Mitterrand's life was a perpetual struggle—against German occupation of his country during the Second World War; against the gloom that usually accompanies electoral defeat, and against the cancer he defied for so long but which later triumphed last Monday.

It said, also that Mitterrand was a force in the international system vigorously pursuing French independence, especially in defence matters based on its famous Force De Frappe.

At the same time he pushed hardest in Europe's march towards economic and later, political integration.

Again, more than most of his Western colleagues, he showed a kinder face to the plight of many African countries.

On issues concerning the Middle East, the pro-Tunisian government daily, La Presse, saw him as a friend, but not so the Tunis daily, Achourouk.

Mr. Mitterand, 79, La Presse said, was an advocate of the Palestinian Cause and one of the main architects for talks between the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Israel.

However, Achourouk (Arabic, Obedience), was derisive of this view.

It recalled what it said was Mr. Mitterand's anti-Arab stand. Evidence of this posture, it said, was his opposition to independence for Algeria and Tunisia, his participation in the Suez crisis in 1956 and the Gulf war despite the excellent relations between Paris and Bagdad.

Sud Quotidien, a privately-owned Dakar paper, appeared more disappointed than angry. It said that when the socialist Mitterrand came to power, Africans [most likely meaning from French-speaking countries] were optimistic of changes to France's anti-immigration laws. However, it said, realpolitik soon caught up with him and he moved closer to the Gaulist tradition of the post Second World War French governments.