Macron ends Africa trip vowing 'equal footing'

STORY: Emmanuel Macron wrapped up a tour of several African countries at the weekend on which he has sought to dispel France's image as an arrogant former colonial power.

At a joint press conference in Democratic Republic of Congo, the French president acknowledged that his country was among foreign powers jostling for influence.

But he also said he was committed to working with countries on an equal footing.

"Today I wish for France to stay true to its role as an unwavering ally to the DRC to defend its integrity and its sovereignty."

Congo's capital has, over the past week, seen several small-scale protests.

They're a sign of rising anti-French sentiment that has been seen in other parts of Francophone Africa.

In Kinshasa, perceptions are that France is close to Congo's neighbor Rwanda.

Congo accuses Rwanda of backing rebels from the M23 group whose recent offensive has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Rwanda denies supporting the M23.

Macron said he had been "very clear about condemning the M23 and those who support it".

He also pledged $36 million of aid to Congo's conflict-hit east.

But there were also signs of tension at the press conference with the French president appearing to suggest that insecurity in Congo over the past three decades was mostly its own fault.

"You have not been able to restore your sovereignty, neither military, security or administrative in your country, that's also a reality. You shouldn't look for culprits from outside."

This was Macron's 18th visit to Africa as president.

It also follows recent tours by high-level officials from the U.S., Russia and China - seeking closer ties.

France has suffered recent messy breakdowns in relations with some former colonies in West Africa.

Macron's trip, including first-time visits to Congo, Gabon, Angola and Congo Republic, reflects that France is now seeking to turn the page.