The use of French is on the decline in North Africa, France’s president has acknowledged during a summit of French-speaking nations in Tunisia.
“English is a new common language that people have accepted,” Emmanuel Macron said at the Francophonie meeting. But he added that French remains “the universal language of the African continent”.
The Francophonie grouping – made up mainly of former French colonies – has been criticised for failing to take a stronger role in diplomacy and crisis resolution, while the current hosts Tunisia have received international condemnation for the president’s recent power grab.
On Friday, Tunisian police fired tear gas at protestors trying to reach the island of Djerba where the summit is happening.
About 30 leaders – including those of Ivory Coast, Gabon, Rwanda, and Canada – are said to be attending this weekend’s talks focusing on economic cooperation as well as responses to the Ukraine crisis.
AFP news agency says Mr Macron told fellow member that the Francophonie should be “a space of resistance and reconquest” and called for it to reclaim its role.