France is planning to deliver drones and more refined weapons to Benin to help it in tackling the worsening Islamist insurgency that is threatening the region, President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday.
Macron has pledged during a joint press conference with Benin’s President Patrice Talon on the second leg of his three-nation tour of Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau.
Benin, along with the Gulf of Guinea states Togo and Ivory Coast, has seen growing attacks from militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State as violence spreads south from the Sahel nations of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
Benin and Togo have suffered deadly attacks in recent weeks. France is withdrawing thousands of its army men from Mali following a decade there and looking to redefine its strategy to battle insurgents in the region.
A central pillar of the new strategy is to help the nations empowering their armies, provide support and permit them to take the lead in operations on the ground. Countries that request it could have French troops on the ground.
Macron said France was already providing Benin with intelligence, training support, and other civilian aid to help develop areas that are vulnerable jihadist threats.
Macron has pledged to soon deliver vehicles, de-mining equipment, bulletproof vests and night vision equipment.
Talon said that Benin was hoping for more because the fight against terrorism has become one country’s major challenges, which could hurt its economy.
Talon added, “Unfortunately, we have so far not managed to convince French army authorities on certain aspects of military co-operation, specifically the supply of equipments, but I salute France’s support on negligence and training.”
While adding that the nation had the financial means to acquire the equipment from third parties but would prefer to deal with France, in which Talon said, “We need weapons.”