Sarkozy Cautions African Leaders to Heed Peoples’ Desire for Change

January 30, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

NEW IMAGE: French President Nicolas Sarkozy speaks during a press conference at the presidential Elysee palace Jan. 24 in Paris. (Eric Feferberg/GETTY IMAGES)
NEW IMAGE: French President Nicolas Sarkozy speaks during a press conference at the presidential Elysee palace Jan. 24 in Paris. (Eric Feferberg/GETTY IMAGES)
Alluding to the tumult in Tunisia and Egypt, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said African leaders need to heed their peoples’ desire for change, when he spoke Jan. 30 at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Today’s world cannot be governed like yesterday’s,” Sarkozy said. “Either you undergo this change and leave [a] door open for violence. Or you anticipate it, accompany it, and accomplish it without violence,” he said, according to France 24.

Sarkozy more pointedly criticized incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, saying, “The freely expressed will of an entire people in an election meant to seal a return to peace is being treated with scorn,” according to VOA.

France officially supported former Tunisian President Zine El Abdine Ben Ali until just days before he fled under extreme public pressure.

After the G-8 and G-20 summits last year, France said it would make a priority of aiding developing nations, including Africa. Sarkozy has proposed a controversial tax on global financial transactions to fund the aid initiative.