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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05DJIBOUTI106 2005-01-31 14:31:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

FRANCE'S AMBASSADOR TO DJIBOUTI GRAPPLES WITH

Tags:   PREL PGOV EAID MARR SCUL FR DJ 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000106 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF, AF/E AND EUR
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER CHARLES NEARY
LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHER RICK BELL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID MARR SCUL FR DJ
SUBJECT: FRANCE'S AMBASSADOR TO DJIBOUTI GRAPPLES WITH
BORREL AFFAIR

REF: DJIBOUTI 68

Classified By: AMBASSADOR MARGUERITA D. RAGSDALE.
REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).



1. (U) France's Ambassador to Djibouti, Philippe Selz, went
on Djiboutian television (RTD) evening of January 30 to read
in its entirety a January 29 declaration of the Spokesperson
of France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the Borrel
affair and France's relations with Djibouti. The statement,
as delivered, noted inter alia France's regret of the
decision taken by Djiboutian authorities to "end the mission
of six French technical assistants," and the intention of
France to maintain its partnership with Djibouti. The full
text of the French Foreign Ministry statement was also
conveyed by Selz to the local newspaper La Nation.



2. (C) In a meeting with Ambassador Ragsdale on January 31 at
the French Embassy, Selz expressed his concern that the
Djiboutian authorities had deliberately "cut" from his
televised broadcast the first six words of the ministerial
statement which states that "France takes note with regret"
the decision of the Djiboutian authorities to end the mission
of six French technical assistants. He acknowledged that the
full text later appeared in La Nation, but said its impact
had been lost with the cut.



3. (C) Ambassador asked Selz about persistent rumors that a
public demonstration against France's presence in Djibouti
had been planned and later postponed by the government of
Djibouti. She also inquired about another report that
Djibouti's government had asked that all French military
personnel in country be confined to base. Selz responded
that a demonstration had indeed been set for January 28 -- a
demonstration he said had been called by President Guelleh,
"not by the government of Djibouti in general," to take place
in front of the Chancery and at Base Aerienne. Having
learned of the demonstrations, Selz said he had telephoned
the Chief of Protocol to emphasize the requirement that
Djiboutian authorities protect the French mission. At the
same time, Selz said, he and the Commander of French Forces
in Djibouti, General Michel Arrault, decided that it would be
best to confine French Forces to base during the period of
the demonstration to prevent provocation of demonstrators and
also to be in a position to protect the military base if
required. Selz had also asked the Chief of Protocol to
facilitate removal of anti-French graffiti that had been
placed on the perimeter wall of the French Chancery compound.
Following his phone call, according to Selz, the Chief of
Protocol spoke with Guelleh and the demonstration was
officially called off and the graffiti removed.



4. (C) Selz told Ambassador that the value of Djibouti to
France rests more deeply with the French military than with
any other sector. France does not have economic ties to
Djibouti that would make a rift in the relationship untenable
to other sectors. (Comment: Djibouti has the largest
concentration of French military personnel in the world
outside of France and remains a key training ground for
French forces. End comment)



5. (C) Selz described the latest row with Djibouti as the
fourth since his arrival last February. All rows have been
connected to the on-going Borrel affair (see reftel). What
is different about the latest row, he said, is the decision
by Djibouti to expel key cooperation personnel. Selz told
Ambassador that he believes the expulsions and the attendant
support for the president's actions in some quarters of
Djibouti are related to current politics and the desire of
some to curry favor with Guelleh as we move into presidential
elections. He also noted that Djibouti seems bent on using
the leverage of its "alternative" relationship with the
United States as a way to put pressure on France in the
Borrel case -- a purely justice matter over which the
government of France has no control. Ambassador reiterated
the continuing value the U.S. sees in France and the U.S.
working together in Djibouti.



6. (C) Comment: Although Selz tries hard to portray his
country's recent difficulties as "business as usual" with
Djibouti, he is deeply concerned and is facing pressure from
Paris. French prestige is on the line, given difficulties it
is now facing in Cote d'Ivoire. Yet he is also concerned
that the hoopla over the unresolved Borrel case (called here
"la tenebreuse affaire") is being used by Djibouti as a
mechanism to ease out of its long-term relationship with
France in favor of the U.S. France currently has a ten-year
base access and defense agreement with Djibouti, which began
in 2003, and whose terms obligate France to pay 30 million
Euros per year (approximately USD 39 million) in much-needed
cash and support. End comment.
RAGSDALE