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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04PARIS9167
2004-12-29 11:22:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Paris
Cable title:  

FRANCE AND CENTRAL AFRICA (NORTH)

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  PHUM  CM  CT  CH  ZF  XA  FR 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 009167 

SIPDIS

EUCOM FOR POLAD SNELL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/25/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM CM CT CH ZF XA FR
SUBJECT: FRANCE AND CENTRAL AFRICA (NORTH)

REF: PARIS 9133

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) SUMMARY. Chad, where France maintains a permanent
miltary presence, and the Central African Republic (CAR),
where France is supporting military and economic reform are
key countries for France's Africa policy. The crisis in
Darfur has caused concern in France about additional threats
to the stability of the Deby regime in Chad. France supports
Deby, including in his apparent aim to win another term as
President. France has glossed over the manner in which
Francois Bozize came to power in Bangui, and is working with
CAR on training gendarmes and providing support in the IFIs.
In Cameroon, the French see President Biya as a luckluster
leader but, while trying to avoid involvement in the
Cameroonian dispute with Nigeria over the Bakassi peninsula,
are anxious to ensure that Nigeria complies with the ruling
of the International Court of Justice. END SUMMARY.

CHAD



2. (C) Seeing no credible candidates among the opposition,
the French see Chadian President Idriss Deby as the best hope
for stability. MFA officials have made clear to us that
their support for Deby would extend to supporting him when he
decides to seek a further term as President. Deby's problems
with poor health have occasioned periodic visits to Paris for
medical treatment. Although President Chirac has offered the
use of a French military hospital, Deby prefers to use the
American hospital in the Paris suburb of Neuilly.



3. (C) France has maintained a permanent military base of
about 700 troops in Chad for many years. The current number
is just over a thousand, with French forces having been
engaged in assisting NGOs providing relief efforts to
refugees from Darfur. France, which according to an MFA
contact, owns half of N'djamena, has been negotiating with
the Chadians over the return of 90 per cent of the property
as a form of assistance in kind, leaving the remainder for
use by the French garrison.



4. (C) France views the crisis in Darfur (see Reftel on
France and East Africa) as a threat to the stability of Chad.
France sees Deby as caught between his ties to his Zaghawa
kinsmen, who installed and maintained him in power and who
are allied with the Darfur rebels, or acting as a national
leader in the interests of all Chadians. French officials
also note that Deby can not put Chad in the position of
opposing the Khartoum regime.

CAR



5. (C) Francois Bozize's coup in March 2003 brought an end to
uncomfortable relations between Paris and former President
Felix-Ange Patasse. Patasse was variously described to us by
French officials as unpredictable and unstable and his
departure was no loss to the GOF. Having financially
supported the CEMAC troops who had replaced the Libyans in
Bangui, France sent 300 troops to CAR to provide security
immediately following the coup. For several months, the GOF
ducked the issue of whether Bozize should be addressed as
"Mr. President," but it was always clear that as soon as
neighboring African leaders, particularly Gabon's Bongo, were
on board, France would treat with Bozize as de facto head of
state. Meanwhile, France quietly exfiltrated Patasse's Prime
Minister, Martin Ziguele who had taken refuge at the French
embassy in Bangui and gave him asylum in France. At the end
of July 2003, FM de Villepin visited Bozize in CAR, finally
confirming France's de facto recognition.



6. (C) Despite the removal of Patasse, the French remain
pessimistic about CAR. They use every opportunity to ask us
to support CAR in the IFIs, notwithstanding s.508
requirements and are anxious to see the return of U.S.
diplomats to Bangui. France continues to support the CEMAC
deployment in CAR as well as its own military presence which
is engaged in training of gendarmes.



7. (C) CAR had a brief spell in the glare of international
publicity in February this year when Bozize agreed to a
French request, coordinated with the USG, to welcome former
Haitian President Aristide.

CAMEROON



8. (C) In September 2002, The GOF provided facilities for a
discreet meeting among Nigerian President Obasanjo,
Cameroonian President Biya and UNSYG Annan to discuss the
disputed Bakassi peninsula. The GOF, aware that Nigeria
would suspect that France favored Cameroon, took pains to
ensure that there was no French involvement in the meeting.
In August 2004, with the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
having ruled largely in Cameroon's favor, French officials
expressed concern to us over Nigeria's failure to implement
the ICJ decision. The French also took the opportunity,
notwithstanding their reservations about Biya's lackluster
leadership, to press us on support for Cameroon in the IFIs.



9. (C) As with several other long-serving African heads of
state, Biya apparently benefits from Chirac's personal
support as evidenced by the premature statement of
congratulations from the Elysee on Biya's October 2004
election victory even before the vote had been finalized.
Wolff