On July 18, Saturday, a massive anti-imperialist demonstration was held in Clermont-Ferrand in France to denounce French imperialist military and economic maneuvers in its former colonies in Africa. The protestors put forth various demands, including ending French wars in Africa, with the withdrawal of French troops, closure of French military bases, and the return of Africa’s wealth to workers on the continent.
The demonstration saw the participation of various progressive youth groups, including Jeunes Communistes (JC-Lyon), Jeunes Communistes-13, Jeunes Communistes du Bas-Rhin, Jeunes Communistes de la Loire, Communist Youth Union, the Union des Jeunes Révolutionnaires (UJR) – France, Young Communists of Belgium (JCB), Organisation Démocratique de la Jeunesse du Burkina Faso (ODJ), FRAPP – France Dégage, Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) – France and the Association Des Étudiants Burkinabè en France.
Demands were also raised to end the use of CFA Franc in former French colonies in Africa, along with the Eco project. Since 1945, France’s African colonies began using ‘Franc of the French Colonies in Africa’ as their currency. This colonial relic was modified as the Franc of the Financial Community of Africa (Franc CFA) and is now in use in many former colonies. Around eight West African countries continue to use West African CFA franc and six Central African countries use the Central African CFA franc. There is a proposal to introduce a common currency called Eco for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to be later merged with the West African CFA franc.
A joint statement was released by the groups party to the protests on Saturday to “condemn French imperialism and affirm their resolve to fight alongside the peoples of Africa against the barbaric social order imposed on them by the bosses and the French state. Throughout Central and West Africa, workers are still deprived of their riches, sovereignty, and dignity by capitalists, mainly French, with the help of their state and local accomplices.”
“French capitalist monopolies impose their dictatorship, exploit women and men in conditions close to slavery, plunder riches, impoverish the soil, deprive African women and men of access to the most basic social needs such as water, housing, or energy. When workers in Africa seek to rise up against imperialist barbarism, they are violently repressed, sometimes directly by the French Army,” the statement added.
During the demonstration on Saturday, representatives of the Young Communist of Belgium (JCB) also denounced the past and ongoing imperialist interventions by Belgium in its former colonies in Africa.
France remains a major player in various ongoing imperialist conflicts in Africa. Several French enterprises also continue their plunder in the erstwhile colonies and other parts of Africa.