Anger at France Bastille Day parade

Rights groups accuse some participating African leaders and armies of atrocities.

    First ladies including Cameroon's Chantal Biya and France's Carla Bruni watched the parade [Reuters]

    'Colonial nostalgia'

    Rights groups were angered by the presence of countries such as Niger, where a military government took power in a coup five months ago and where French nuclear firm Areva has lucrative uranium mining contracts.

    But Sarkozy insisted the parade was not about colonial "nostalgia" during an address to the African leaders on Tuesday.

    "I know very well the notion of privileged and special relations, this flood of suspicions and fantasies, but the time has come to face up to it together, without inhibitions and without looking back," he said.

    Herve Morin, the defence minister, also dismissed the criticism, saying there was "no indication" that there were war criminals among Sarkozy's guests.

    About 12 African heads of state attended the parade along with Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni.

    The parade saw fighter jets fly over the city, followed by African troops marching down the Champs Elysees avenue, headed by an all-female unit from Benin.

    They were followed by French troops, firemen, police, armoured vehicles and marching bands.

    The heads of state from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad and Togo sat watching from the official stand.

    Ivory Coast was represented by a government minister but did not take part in the march. Forces from Madagascar also joined the parade.

    Bastille day is an annual French holiday that marks the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, signalling the start of the French Revolution.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    From Cameroon to US-Mexico border: 'We saw corpses along the way'

    'We saw corpses along the way'

    Kombo Yannick is one of the many African asylum seekers braving the longer Latin America route to the US.