A convoy of French army vehicles heads toward Gao on February 7, 2013, on the road from Gossi after four Malian civilians were killed by a landmine in territory reclaimed from Islamist rebels.
(PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)
For decades, France has kept unusually close ties with its former colonies in Africa, ruthlessly guarding its interests there through cultural and economic power, covert action and dozens of military interventions. Indeed, former French President Francois Mitterand once pronounced Africa to be France's future in the 21st century. But in the post-Cold War era, France's relationship with Francophone African countries has changed –- for better and for worse. Successive French presidents have declared an end to francafrique, a term denoting the extent of France's neocolonial involvement with its former empire in Africa....
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