A number of senior UN posts, which have traditionally gone to diplomats from francophone Africa, are now being fought over by anglophone and lusophone African states. Meanwhile, the position for head of the Department of Peace Operations, Paris's preserve for the best part of two decades and currently headed by Frenchman Jean-Pierre Lacroix, is being chased by China.
The decision was as sudden as it was shrouded in mystery: on 15 September, four months before Gabon joined the Security Council, the UN told Gabonese peacekeepers deployed in the Central African Republic to leave the country, citing cases of sexual abuse.
Since late September, the UN peacekeeping force in Mali has been deploying surveillance aircraft supplied by the US military contractor MAG Aerospace. A bolstering of its capacities that comes at an opportune moment as the troops of France's Operation Barkhane get ready to withdraw from the north of the country.