The Latest: Macron answers Burkina Faso students’ questions

November 28, 2017

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — The Latest on visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Burkina Faso (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron has addressed several students’ questions with a sense of humor and authority in a noisy classroom atmosphere after giving a speech at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

During a rare occasion since he has been elected in May, Macron answered a large set of questions, visibly enjoying playing the role of a teacher. He joked about the lack of discipline shown by the students who were shouting and laughing, telling them he “loves debating.”

Macron usually tends to avoid answering journalists’ questions during his visits abroad and across France.

Declining to answer questions about Burkina Faso’s domestic issues, he ironized: “You talk to me as if I were the president of Burkina Faso, as if France were still a colonial power.”

The question and answer session, that followed the university speech that lasted almost two hours, ended with students singing the French anthem and loudly applauding Macron.


2:20 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says he is confident that French judicial authorities will extradite the brother of Burkina Faso’s former leader in an investigation of the killing of a journalist.

Francois Compaore, younger brother of former President Blaise Compaore, was arrested in France late last month.

During a visit to Burkina Faso, Macron says authorities are examining the country’s request for his extradition. He says Francois Compaore is not detained but is banned from traveling.

Journalist Norbert Zongo was killed along with three others in 1998. He had been investigating the death of Francois Compaore’s chauffeur. Zongo’s case was abandoned in 2006 but the transition government reopened it after Blaise Compaore stepped down in October 2014.


1:35 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says parenthood “must be a choice, especially for young girls.”

He is making his first major address on Africa during a visit to the continent that begins in Burkina Faso.

He says that “I want a young girl to have the choice not to have children at the age of 13” and that “When you see families of six, seven, eight children per woman, are you sure it’s a choice from the girl?”

Macron is implicitly referring to comments that prompted controversy in July when he suggested it’s a problem that African women often have “seven or eight children.”

Large families are valued in the West African nation, providing a safety net of sorts for parents in their later years. Activists say about half of girls in Burkina Faso will be married before age 18.


12:35 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says slavery and human trafficking in Libya are a “crime against humanity.”

In a speech at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Macron said he wants a “European-African initiative” to end the “terrorists and human traffickers’ strategy.”

He proposed a crackdown on human smugglers’ networks between Africa and Europe, after a video footage, broadcast on CNN earlier this month, showed the auction and sale of migrant men as slaves in Libya.

Macron said he wants “Africa and Europe to help populations trapped in Libya by providing massive support to the evacuation of endangered people.” He did not elaborate. He said he will formally detail his proposal at a summit in Ivory Coast Wednesday.

Macron was making his first big speech in Africa during a four-day trip to Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Ghana.


11:55 a.m.

The French presidency’s spokesman says stones have been thrown at a vehicle transporting members of the French delegation accompanying President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Burkina Faso.

Bruno Roger-Petit said on his official Twitter account Macron was meeting with his counterpart, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, when the incident happened.

He said no vehicle was destroyed in the incident and there were not “hundreds of assailants.”

The incident happened as Macron was expected to make his first big speech in Africa in at the University of Ouagadougou, amid threats of demonstrations.

Burkina Faso’s government has ordered schools closed to ease traffic because of the heavy security measures in place during Macron’s visit, though many view the closures as an effort to reduce the threat of student unrest.


10:40 a.m.

Authorities in Burkina Faso say several people have been wounded by a hand grenade aimed at French soldiers just hours before the French president arrived in the West African country.

Eyewitnesses say two people on a motorcycle threw the grenade late Monday in a neighborhood of the capital, Ouagadougou. The assailants missed their intended target — a bus carrying members of the French military.

However, police said Tuesday that several others were hurt.

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived later Monday evening for a visit to Burkina Faso. He will head to a European-African summit in Ivory Coast Wednesday.

Burkina Faso has been battling a surge in violence blamed on Islamic extremists. The violence has included two attacks on restaurants popular with foreigners, including one in August that killed 18 people.


Associated Press writers Brahima Ouedraogo in Ouagadougou and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed.

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