Senegal’s Prime Minister Sonko Suggests Closing French Military Bases and Calls for Sovereignty


DAKAR, May 16 (Reuters) – Senegal’s Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko proposed the possibility of closing French military bases in the country during a comprehensive speech on Thursday. He also addressed topics such as the euro-backed CFA franc currency, oil and gas deals, and LGBTQ rights.

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Sonko, known for his criticism of France’s influence in Senegal, spoke after his hand-picked presidential candidate, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, won a decisive victory in March. France currently has about 350 troops stationed in Senegal.

“More than 60 years after our independence … we must question the reasons why the French army still benefits from several military bases in our country and the impact of this presence on our national sovereignty and strategic autonomy,” Sonko said at a joint conference with French left-wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon in Dakar.

Sonko emphasized Senegal’s desire for complete control over its affairs, deeming the lasting presence of foreign military bases incompatible with national sovereignty. He noted that while various countries had promised defense agreements, it did not justify the extensive foreign military presence in the Dakar region.

Neighboring countries Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have expelled French troops and sought assistance from Russia to combat jihadist insurgencies. These countries have also distanced themselves from the West African bloc ECOWAS, forming their own Sahel alliance. Sonko expressed solidarity with these nations, vowing to strengthen ties.

Regarding the CFA franc, which Senegal shares with seven other countries, Sonko advocated for a more flexible currency pegged to multiple currencies to absorb economic shocks and enhance export competitiveness. Although Faye had initially promised to abandon the CFA franc during his campaign, he later retracted that commitment.

Sonko reiterated plans to renegotiate Senegal’s oil and gas contracts, with production expected to commence this year. He also called for Western countries to exercise “restraint, respect, reciprocity, and tolerance” on social issues, including LGBTQ rights and gender equality.

While acknowledging the existence of homosexuality in Senegal, Sonko stated that the country would continue to manage it according to its socio-cultural realities, firmly rejecting any legalization of the phenomenon.

By Naija247news
By Naija247news
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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