French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that
France will build a memorial site in the capital of the Republic of Congo to honor the memory of African women and men who sacrificed their lives to free France.
Brazzaville served as the capital of “Free France” from where Gen. Charles de Gaulle, who led Free France against Nazi Germany in World II, signed the first decrees and orders that would govern the Free French territory.
Free France served as a government in exile and Brazzaville remained the capital until 1943, when it was transferred to Algiers.
“In Brazzaville, which was the capital of the Free France, a memorial will be built to honor the memory of these women and men, these African heroes, who had never set foot on the soil of France but gave their lives to free it,” Macron said in Brazzaville.
Macron arrived late Friday in the Congolese capital on the third day of his African tour that is aimed to open a new era in relations between France and the African continent, according to Paris.
He was welcomed at the Maya Maya airport by his Congolese counterpart, Denis Sassou Nguesso. He later held a tête-à-tête at the presidential palace.
Sassou Nguesso said he had “rich exchanges” with Macron.
While in the Republic of Congo, Macron, who is due Saturday in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, met the French community of about 4,300 nationals.
Macron began his tour Wednesday in Libreville, the Gabonese capital.
He made a short stopover Friday in Angola, where he participated in an agriculture economic forum before meeting his Angolan counterpart, Joao Lourenco.
According to the French presidency, Macron’s visit offered an opportunity to welcome real progress in the service of local populations to which France has been able to contribute in Brazzaville; including in road, water and education infrastructure.
Ahead of the visit, rights groups in Congo-Brazzaville petitioned Macron to pressure Nguesso to release former presidential candidates Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko and Andre Okombi Salissa who were handed 20 years jail terms in 2016 for reportedly endangering state security.
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