France has been staging its annual Bastille Day parade amid a storm of controversy. French President Nicholas Sarkozy took the salute on the Champs-Eleysées.
The storming of the Bastille in 1789 is viewed symbolically as the birth of the French republic. Armies from former colonies celebrating 50 years of independence have been taking part, euronews reports.
Troops from 13 African nations marched in Paris Wednesday, marking half a century of independence from colonial rule as part of a rain-soaked French national parade heavily criticised by human rights groups.
Cameroonian soldiers in red uniforms and capes and Congolese troops in brown headscarves were among those pounding the cobbles of the Champs Elysees avenue in the Bastille Day parade, with rifles and bayonets at their shoulders.
Twelve African heads of state were guests of honour at the annual display of military power on France's national holiday, which this year drew criticism from rights groups that accuse some African leaders and armies of atrocities, AFP reports.