French Association Denounces "Red Carpet Welcome" to Paris for African dictators

By Ruth Nabakwe
(Paris, France)

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

October 14, 2002

A French Association known as "Survie" which monitors France-Africa relations has decried what it said was the red carpet welcome to some of Africa's leaders visiting Paris who "never stopped terrorising their people" .

In a statement Friday, the Survie Association headed by Francois Xavier Verchave, a critic of the regimes of Presidents Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo, Brazzaville) and Omar Bongo (Gabon) among other African leaders it considers dictators, expressed concern saying it was permissible for people to question themselves on the "private nature" of such visits to France.

"In mid September 2002, Paris rolls out the red carpet under the feet of Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso who hardly stops tyranny on his people (and) at the beginning of October, the tyrant of Djibouti Ismael Omar Guelleh walks on the same red carpet," the Association said.

In the statement titled, "Never two without Three," the Association said the next leader to visit Paris after the two previous Presidents was Omar Bongo of Gabon who after the Paris stop was expected to travel to Beirut for the Francophone summit slated for 18-20 October.

President Bongo arrived in the French capital Thursday in what was described by officials here as a "private visit."

"It is permissible to interrogate ourselves on the strictly private nature of these so frequent visits to Paris of these leaders of France-African neo-colonies," the Association said.

"What has Omar Bongo come to do in Paris on the eve of the Lebanon (Francophone) gathering?, if it's about calling for his 'wise' counsel we remind his eventual interlocutors that his (wise) counsel is not evident .To convince yourself you only need to discuss with the Gabonese citizens whom he terrifies (because) they keep quiet about what they wish to cry out because they live in fear," according to Survie.

His visit to Paris was about other things, what then? "the preparations of the (Beirut) summit,? maybe: Omar Bongo is defending the candidacy of the Brazzaville ambassador to Paris Henri Lopes defended by his (Bongo's) father-in law Denis Sassou Nguesso accused by congolese of committing crimes against humanity.

Nguesso's daughter Edith Bongo was the wife of President Bongo.

Survie further queried about the possible reasons of Bong's "private visit" to France saying if it was about the Ivorian crisis ( which is possible), it hoped that wise counsel would prevail despite all. Survie therefore urged France to assist Cote d'ivoire to find a solution to the crisis that would help preserve the lives of all it's inhabitants. "The interests of France whatever they are come after(those of Ivorians)," the association added.

Survie President Verschave was instrumental in calling for a review of French policy in Africa which it perceived as neo-colonial favouring African dictators.

Verschave had in recent times become the subject of defamation suits filed in a French court by Presidents Omar Bongo (Gabon), Sassou Nguesso Congo, Brazzaville) and Idris Derby (Chad). The suits were dismissed by the French court including appeals filed later against Verschave for his book, "Noir Silence- Qui arrêtera La Francafrique?" (Black Silence-Who will stop Francafrique?)

The book lists the three leaders as some of Africa's worst human rights violators against their people in what it describes as the "incestous" cooperation relations with France through the Francafrique networks that refer to mafia-like networks that have negative destabilizing consequences for African countries due to their links with mercenaries.

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