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France suffers African dictators: Denis Sassou-Nguesso warmly welcomed by Sarkozy

France is famous for getting cozy with the dictators who govern their former colonies, a tradition called Françafrique that newly-elected French president Nicolas Sarkozy appears keen to continue.

In March, he received Omar Bongo, President of Gabon since 1967.

And last week he played host to Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of Congo-Brazzaville.

Both have been accused of manipulating democratic institutions to extend their own rule, perhaps for life, of mortgaging the futures of the people they lead for their personal enrichment.

Both are under investigation by the French police for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars in public funds (i.e., oil revenue) to buy property in France.

Little wonder so many internautes think Sarkozy’s willingness to turn a blind eye to dictatorship and corruption has something to do with coveting the millions of barrels of oil in Gabon and Congo.

In Congo-Brazzaville and the diaspora, people are sick of France’s willful complicity in the story of African despotism.

Here I translate some excerpts from Vous reprendrez bien un peu d'humanisme?, who lampoons Sassou-Nguesso's recent visit to France in series of blog posts and cartoons, and comments left by readers of Mwinda.org, a participatory Congolese news website.

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Sarkozy:

He’s like Marcel’s banania.

Ajar, always with a smile on his lips.

But who is it?

Sassou-Nguesso?

Ah yes, one of our black governors that allow us to make the shareholders of Total rich.

We’ll let him think he’s important.
Sassou aide:

They gave us paper to color but not the crayons. Where did I put mine?

Doesn’t everyone deserve democracy?

Humanisme sent Sarkozy a letter via a form on the Elysee website to protest his reception of Sassou and urges readers of Mwinda.org to do the same.

He asks whether the Congolese are any less deserving of the democracy French citizens enjoy:

La gouvernance, la déontologie et l'honnêteté du Président de la Rapublique du Congo sont particulièrement mises en doute par différentes instructions judiciaires en cours au niveau international (RICO aux Etats-Unis ou la plainte de Survie et Sherpa à Paris). Les dernières élections législatives au Congo ont montré un énorme déni de démocratie vis à vis du peuple Congolais comme les observations convergentes remontées par de nombreuses sources indépendantes en attestent. Alors qu'en tant que français, je peux témoigner de l'organisation transparente de nos élections en France qui vous ont porté à la place que vous occupez aujourd'hui et qui ont permis l'élection de nos députés sans que nous ayons aujourd'hui des suspicions d'irrégularité.

Serious doubt has been cast on the governance, ethics, and honesty of the President of the Republic of the Congo at the international level (RICO in the United States or the Surive and Sherpa case in Paris).

The last legislative elections in the Congo showed, as the observations of numerous independent sources attest. As a French, I can testify to the transparency of our elections in France that brought you into the office you occupy today and that allowed the election of our deputies without any suspicions of irregularity.
The legislative elections were a major sticking point.

Numerous calls for an independent electoral commission were made, but ignored.

In the end there were serious election irregularities (Fr). Humanisme calls the June 24th election “the most undemocratic election in years.”

Monsieur Sarkozy, vous qui avez été élu dans une élection transparente qui montre la France comme une véritable démocratie, ne croyez-vous pas qu'il est temps que la France arrête de donner des satisfecits à nos gouverneurs noirs d'Afrique, uniquement pour que nous puissions continuer de sucer tranquillement le pétrole du peuple congolais ?

Mr. Sarkozy, you were elected in a transparent election that shows France is a true democracy. Don’t you believe it is time that France stop giving our African leaders glowing reports solely so [France] can leisurely suck up the Congolese people’s oil?

Combien de temps encore faudra-t-il attendre pour qu'un Président de la Republique de la France, patrie des droits de l'homme, cesse cette hypocrisie vis à vis de l'Afrique francophone depuis les indépendances? Les peuples d'Afrique francophone n'ont-ils pas suffisamment payé de leur sang le liquide noir que nous leur volons pour notre confort d'européen? N'ont-ils pas eux aussi droit à une vraie démocratie? Pas une démocratie de façade qui nous sert ensuite de justification facile pour renvoyer ces africains indésirables dans leur pays où ils n'ont aucun avenir. Non, une démocratie avec un respect des règles qui ne puisse pas être mis en doute.

How much longer do we have to wait before a President of the French Republic, fatherland of human rights, ends its hypocrisy vis-à-vis Francophone Africa [that has persisted] since independence? Have the people of Francophone Africa not paid enough of their black blood for our European comfort? Don’t they also have a right to true democracy?

Not the facade of democracy that serves as an easy justification for sending back undesirable Africans to their countries where they have no future.

No, a democracy with a respect for rules, one that cannot be put in doubt.

Not everyone agrees the elections were compromised.

On Mwinda.org reader, Aime jules, writes :

…ill y a un processus democratique en cours a brazzaville.un tract est un moyen de communication dans un regime dictatorial ou pour un opposant qui craint pour sa vie. la semaine passee des elections libres transparentes et participatives ont ete organisees au congo.un membre du gouvernement a meme ete battu dan son fief. frederic bitsangou n'est pas sur de gagner au deuxieme tour.les electeurs se sont exprimes en toute liberte…il n y a aucune dictature a brazzaville.

…there is a democratic process underway in Brazzaville…last week, free, transpartant, and participatory election were organized in Congo.

A member of government was even beaten in his [district].

It’s not certain that frederic bitsangou will win in the second round.

The voters expressed themselves in complete freedom…there is no dictatorship in Brazzaville.

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Sassou: “They could wait until I voted to begin stuffing the ballots.”

First lady: “My dress and my jewelry are beautiful!!”

France, friend of oppressed peoples

As evidence of French hypocrisy, Humanisme points to Sarkozy’s own words during a visit to Africa as interior minister:

Pour rappel: “Nous devons créer les conditions de relations adultes, responsables et décomplexées qui pourront s'épanouir en pleine lumière, sous le regard de tous”, a lancé le ministre de l'Intérieur…« Ce dialogue et ce partenariat exigeant, ils doivent s'inscrire dans le cadre d'un échange équilibré entre nations souveraines et alliées, liées par des liens privilégiés », a poursuivi le ministre, annonçant que les relations avec l’Afrique seraient une « priorité » de sa politique internationale, s’il est élu l’an prochain… “Nous ne devons plus accepter que l'aide au développement puisse devenir une prime à la mauvaise gouvernance et aux régimes prédateurs. Comme nous ne devons plus tolérer les détournements auxquels elle donne encore trop souvent lieu.”

To remind you : “We must create the conditions for a responsible, adult relationship free of complexes, in the open air, under the watch of everyone…this vital dialogue and partnership must be part of an equal exchange between sovereign and allied nations, tied together by a special bond,” continued [Sarkozy], declaring that relations with Africa would be a “priority” of his international policy, if he is elected next year…”We should understand that development aid can be a boon for bad governance and predatory regimes. So we can no longer tolerate the misuses of funds that aid often enables.” (source: le figaro)

In a similar vein, Gracias, a Mwinda.org reader, writes:

voici ce que sarkozy avait déclaré après sa victoire:”les peuples opprimés trouveront en la france un pays ami , une oreille attentive pour qu'ils gagnent leur dignité etc…”

After his victory, Sarkozy declared : “the oppressed peoples will find in France a friend, an attentive ear for them to win their dignity etc…”

Vive la Françafrique!

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Meeting between M. Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo

Sarkozy: “A firm grip to crush his hand.”
Sassou: “He’s hurting me this racist, neocolonialist, lingering stench of colonialism. He’s crushing my fingers.
Oh my Jacques, how I miss our passionate embraces.”

From the perspective of many Africans and despite Sarkozy’s rhetoric to the contrary, Françafrique is alive and well.

Here is a sampling of comments from Mwinda.org readers:

Desir :

… Vous qui vivez en France,chers compatriotes, faites parvenir par tous les moyens des messages aux média's Français, si possible au bureau de l'elysée sur la honte electorale au Congo,des detournements de fonds, de la kleptocratie du regime, des crimes et delits financiers,etc. D'autres d'entre nous me dirons qu'ils(l'elysée et les autres toubib de la misère du Congo) savent, c'est vrai puisque les plats des détournements se cuisinent depuis la France…
…You who live in France, dear compatriots, by every means possible make the message about the elections outrage, the embezzlement of funds, the kleptocracy of the regime, the financial crimes and misdemeanors reach the French media, and if possible the office of l’Elysee

Some among us told me that they (l’elysee and the other doctors of misery in the Congo) know, that’s must be true because a lot of the fruits of the embezzled money are eaten in France…

Richard :

La réalité est que la France est un petit pays sur le concert des nations et qui a toujours beneficié du soutien de ses anciennes colonies pour se presenter comme un grand pays au sein de l'ONU.

Sarkozy qui pronait la rupture est reduit à recevoir un homme cité dans une enquête pour crime contre l'humanité. Celui-là meme qui a fait bruler le drapeau de la France par des voyous conduits dans des bus devant l'amabsaade de France a BZV avec l'organisation de certains membres de son gouvernement.

Sarkozy doit recevoir en moins de six mois de prise du pouvoir Bongo et Sassou les deux plus grandes crapules de l'Afrique.

The reality is that France is a tiny country on the international stage and that it has always benefited from the support if its former colonies to present itself as a major player at the heart of the UN.

Sarkozy, who trumpeted a break with the past, is reduced to receiving a man implicated in an investigation for crimes against humanity, a man who made hooligans burn the French flag in buses before the French embassy in Brazzaville in coordination with certain members of government.

In less than six months before coming into power, Sarkozy has received both Bongo and Sassou, the two biggest scoundrels in Africa.

Vivienz:

En choisissant d'inaugurer son règne avec une rencontre aussi incestueuse avec Sassou, bien avant Bongo, Mr. Sarkozy semble avoir choisi, non pas d'aider à l'affirmation en Afrique des valeurs démocratiques et humanisantes qui élèvent l'homme, mais bel et bien de travailler à la confirmation de la néfaste politique étrangère de la France héritée de ses prédécesseurs. La France est connue pour déclarer, et donc, valider, la victoire des dictateurs africains après des élections truquées, car l'histoire de la France n'a jamais été une histoire de cassures, mais plutôt de continuités.

By chosing to inaugurate his term with as incestuous a meeting as Sassou, not to mention Bongo, Mr. Sarkozy seems to have chosen not to help Africa affirm its democratic and humanist values that elevate people, but to work to confirm the underhanded foreign policy inherited from his predecessors.

France is known for supporting, and therefore validating, the victory of African dictators after rigged elections, for the history of France has never been one of ruptures but of continuities.

5 comments

  • Thanks for this good job.

    Actually I have made a mistake in my fake. Banania is a character from an Emile Ajar’s novel (“La vie devant soi”). Emile Ajar was a Romain Gary’s pseudo. The truth was discovered after his suicide. I apologize for my weak english. ;-)

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