The French president’s suggestion aims to harness a spirit of global solidarity in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Rabat – French President Emmanuel Macron has hinted at the possibility of canceling the debts of African states to help them fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Macron addressed French citizens on Monday, April 13, about the coronavirus crisis and confinement measures in the country.
“We should also help our African neighbors in their fight against the virus more efficiently, but also help them economically by massively canceling their debts,” said Macron.
“We will never live alone, because today, in Bergamo, Madrid, Brussels, London, Beijing, New York, Algiers, or Dakar, we mourn the dead of the same virus,” he added.
The French president’s statement was very similar to the calls of Pope Francis during his Easter speech, one day earlier.
Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City, called for global solidarity against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The pope suggested “the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations.”
The French president’s speech also comes after two French doctors made headlines in early April because of their racist suggestion of testing COVID-19 vaccines on African populations.
“Shouldn’t we do [vaccine tests] in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care?” suggested Jean-Paul Mira, the head of the intensive care department at the Cochin Hospital in Paris.
“You are right. We are actually thinking about leading a study in Africa… We have already launched a call for bids and we are strongly considering the idea,” responded Camille Locht, the research director at the French National Institute of Health Medical Research (INSERM).
The exchange, broadcasted on French television channel LCI, caused outrage on social media, with several African celebrities and public figures denouncing the “racist and colonialist” mindsets of the Frenchmen.
Macron has long promoted an image of a “new” France that has evolved from the colonial era.
On December 21, 2019, during an official visit to Cote d’Ivoire, Macron declared that colonialism was “a mistake of the [French] Republic.”
“Today, France is usually perceived [as having] a look of hegemony and tinsels of colonialism, which was a profound error, a mistake of the [French] Republic,” he said.
“I belong to a generation which is not that of colonization,” he added.
During his visit to Cote d’Ivoire, the French president called for “building a new page” between France and its former African colonies.