Whatever the driving force behind this coup a feeling of déjà vu provokes suspicions. Even if Washington was behind this regime change, France was aware of the entire operation. The spokesperson of an armed group who calls news agencies from Paris is inevitably known by the secret services, and is given the green light to do so.
Since Friday (March 22), AFP (Agence France-Presse) and RFI (Radio France International) have been preparing us for the capture of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, by the rebels gathered together in the Seleka coalition. On Sunday morning (March 24), the spokesman for the mercenaries announced from Paris via AFP that the Presidential Palace had been taken and President François Bozizé had fled. This is yet another military intervention in Africa carried out by ‘rebels’ who are rebels merely in name.
All these interventions have the same characteristics and are played out in the same fashion.
- They come from an area where the subsoil tends to be rich, or where a charismatic leader is ready to assume his long-standing future position.
- They take care to open an office in a European capital for the sake of their media relations and image. They have huge financial resources and arms of unknown origin at their disposal.
- They also have irrefutable reasons for justifying their revolt and raising global awareness of their cause. They also require trainers and training grounds, which they always find. Then there’s nothing left but to launch the operation. From the very beginning, the media start talking about them so as to introduce them to us and to tell us their demands, whilst underlining all the negative aspects of the future victim as neutrally as possible.
Following the first clashes and first deaths, emotions and indignation enter the fray. A solution must be found quickly and it’s up to the UN to find it. The Security Council will issue a resolution to be interpreted as it sees fit, which will require negotiations with the rebels and will decide how intervention forces (regional if possible) will be formed. We already know the result as we’ve seen it many times. We know that negotiations will come to nothing or will be denounced when it’s convenient. We know that one way or another, the goal is elimination of the target, whether physical or not.
This Sunday (March 24), Bozizé played out the last act of the scenario. However, he really ought to have waited, given that he’s been through many coups attempts and was even brought to power by one in 2003. Once he became president, he quickly felt that Paris wasn’t going to make his task easy. To have an idea of the complexity of François Bozizé’s relations with France, we must remember that this man is not new in Central African leadership. He was there during the Bokassa years - he was brigadier general at the time.
In 1982, he fomented a coup against Bokassa's successor President André Kolingba, who had been brought in by the French. The coup failed, but he had just committed treason against France. After ten years of exile, he returned to Bangui and gradually became the strong man of government.
In 2001, he was head of the army when another attempt was made to overthrow the government. The coup failed and yet he was suspected of being involved. New exile would lead him to Chad along with a few loyal troops. From there, he would lead several attacks that were unsuccessful because the Central African president has the advantage of French support and an effective guard made up of Libyans.
However, in 2003, in face of the country's chronic instability and the growing unpopularity of Ange Patassé, French support would cease and eventually Bozizé seized power with help from Chad and discreet cooperation from France. For ten years, Bozizé was thus an ally, but only out of obligation, ruling a country where nobody has ever been able to gain presidential office without a French adviser.
During the Chirac era, the French government did everything to throw a spanner into the works of this inappropriate putschist with a rather coloured past. Added to economic and financial difficulties, France’s ill-will pushed Bozizé to find solutions elsewhere. He made use of all his contacts, even indirectly, to find the capital to rebuild the country’s infrastructure which had been totally squandered and abandoned, and to pay its officials and soldiers, sometimes many months late. He also tried to attract the few investors that dared to face the wrath of Paris. His Freemason contacts would play some part, but the needs were enormous.
Towards the end of the Chirac era, everything seemed to go back to normal thanks to the efforts of Omar Bongo. It was again the perfect good student of Françafrique. Meanwhile, the fishing capital that he had initiated in order to save the day began to bear fruit. He would benefit from the new race for mineral riches. The Central African Republic has serious advantages in this area. Her subsoil is highly rich in minerals but this wealth is yet to be properly evaluated, which was of particular interest to China with her large investment capacity.
It was a perfect meeting between Bangui and Beijing. Yet this kind of meeting is sure to result in a spontaneous coup d’État, or popular discontent due to rising food prices, or even an armed rebellion of an oppressed minority. Especially when the subsoil is as rich as it is in the Central African Republic.
First and foremost, there’s the gold and the diamonds. Nobody can say with any certainty what the country's exact potential for diamond extraction is, but we know that quantities are considerable and the quality is recognised. Yet in spite of this, diamond production revenue is far below expectations. Naturally, one of the underlying reasons is widespread corruption on every level.
Then there’s the fact that diamond exploitation stills tends to be a cottage industry. Mechanised diamond production constitutes less than 10 percent of national production, which is well behind the machinery of De Beers in South Africa and Angola. The diamond trade also suffers from the dark aura that surrounds it, as well as smuggling, especially with the Democratic Republic of Congo, as the diamond area stretches over the border between the two countries.
In addition to diamonds, which are one of the country’s main resources, a recent American study has just discovered uranium. In other words, it might as well say goodbye to sovereignty, if it had ever dreamed of such a thing.
As good news tends to come in threes, we can also mention that there is oil, but we already knew that. The oil fields are located in the north of the country, near to the Chadian border. The license was granted to the American company Grynberg RSM. Due to the risks and difficulties, the company threw in the towel and China has taken over, together with a Sudanese company. Research is now led by the Chinese company CNPC in an area which has proven potential for one million barrels, offering hopeful signs that there might be five times as much. Nobody will be surprised that this area is the rebels’ stronghold.
We could almost say that Bozizé was looking for his coup. The mercenaries have apparently succeeded in theirs.
So what is France’s true role? Having no reason to be there would be a first in this country. In such a case, the question arises for the United States. Whatever the driving force behind this coup may be, the feeling of déjà vu provokes suspicions. Even if Washington was behind this regime change, France was aware of the entire operation. The spokesperson of an armed group who calls news agencies from Paris is inevitably known by the secret services, and is given the green light to do so. This explains why the government did not seem worried at all worried for the French nationals in Bangui.
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