PARIS - President Emmanuel Macron is to lay out on Monday France's revamped political and military strategy for Africa, two days ahead of a tour of central African countries, as Paris seeks to counter growing Chinese and Russian influence in the region.

The French head of state is set to unveil on Monday "his priorities and his method to deepen the partnership between France, Europe and the African continent", the presidential office has said.

He is also expected to give more details about the future of the French military presence on the continent after announcing in the autumn the end of its Barkhane anti-jihadist operation in the Sahel.

France has withdrawn its troops from former French colonies Mali and Burkina Faso amid worsening relations with both countries' new military authorities.

France still has thousands of troops in the region, including in Niger and Chad, but is seeking to redeploy some towards the Gulf of Guinea and tone down its presence on the ground.

"The philosophy behind this change is to cooperate differently, not to deploy more or fewer troops," a presidential adviser told French news agency AFP. "We are entering a cycle where we will work behind the scenes," he added.

Macron's address follows a 2017 speech to students at a university in Burkina Faso in which he pledged to break away from his country's former post-colonial policies on the continent.

He criticised "the crimes of European colonisation" and called for a "truly new relationship" between Africa and Europe.

Central African tour

On Wednesday Macron begins a tour of central Africa.

He will arrive in Gabon, a former French colony, to attend the One Forest Summit on preserving forests along the vast Congo River basin.

He will then head to the former Portuguese colony of Angola as part of a drive to enhance French ties with English- and Portuguese-speaking parts of Africa.

After Congo-Brazzaville, another former French colony, he will end his trip in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo – ruled by Belgium during the colonial era – on Friday and Saturday.

The president has insisted Africa is a priority of his second term in office, and in July he undertook a trip to Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau.

Russia and Ukraine

In his speech, President Macron will also reiterate the need to boost ties in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

"Faced with strategic threats – the war in Ukraine as well as economic and pandemic shocks – it is crucial that Europe and Africa be as aligned and as close as possible in their dialogue," a French presidential adviser told AFP.

Macron has repeatedly urged countries of the global south to condemn the war in Ukraine.

But when the United Nations on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to demand Russia immediately withdraw its troops from its pro-Western neighbour, three of the four countries Macron is visiting this week – Gabon, Angola and Congo-Brazzaville – abstained alongside China and India.

Paris is concerned over the growing role of Russia in French-speaking African countries, alongside an ongoing Chinese push for influence.

France and its Western allies accuse Russian mercenary group Wagner, infamous for its activities in Syria and Ukraine, of being active in Mali and the Central African Republic.

Reports have also suggested Wagner is seeking to implant itself in Burkina Faso, claims Moscow dismissed last week.

In recent months, Paris has accused Russia of spreading disinformation to undermine French interests in former colonies.