OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO (NOVEMBER 28, 2017) (AGENCY POOL) – French President Emmanuel Macron has a reputation for disarming hostile audiences with repartee and humour, but his latest verbal jousting on a trip to Africa has drawn criticism at home.
In an interview broadcast late on Wednesday (November 29), Macron dismissed as “ridiculous” suggestions he had offended Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Kabore when he quipped with students that Kabore had left the room to fix the air-conditioning.
The exchange came during a boisterous 90-minute question-and-answer session at Ouagadougou University earlier this week that followed Macron’s promise of a new era in relations between France and Africa.
When one of the students in the audience grilled Macron over what he would do about Burkina Faso’s constant power cuts, the 39-year-old replied: “You’re still talking to me as if I am a colonial power but I don’t want to look after the electricity in the universities of Burkina Faso! That’s the president’s job.”
Earlier heckles turned into laughter and applause.
Far-right rivals accused him of “bordering on racism”.