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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05PARIS1229
2005-02-25 16:07:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Paris
Cable title:  

TOGO/FRANCE: UPDATE ON CHARLES DEBBASCH AND MFA

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  PINR  TO  FR 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001229 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR TO FR
SUBJECT: TOGO/FRANCE: UPDATE ON CHARLES DEBBASCH AND MFA
STATEMENTS ON TOGO

REF: PARIS 952



1. (U) This message reports (para 2) developments in the
case of Charles Debbasch (reftel) and (para 3) MFA statements
on Togo since the February 14 statement reported reftel.



2. (SBU) DEBBASCH CASE: According to a February 24 AFP
report, the criminal case against Debbasch (a longtime
advisor of Eyadema who is reportedly now in Togo and who may
be influencing events there), is progressing. Debbasch,
accused of malfeasance in connection with his presidency of
the Fondation Vasarely, won partial reversal of an earlier
conviction but a rehearing was ordered. The prosecutor in
the rehearing, according to AFP, said he was seeking an
arrest warrant against Debbasch and for the court hearing the
case to sentence Debbasch to a mandatory two years in prison.
The prosecutor also wants Debbasch to pay a fine of 150,000
euros. The court is expected to rule on the case on May 11.
Debbasch, reportedly still in Togo, was not present at the
February 24 hearing where the prosecution stated the
punishment it thought Debbasch deserved. Instead, he sent a
medical certificate from Lome explaining that he would be
unavailable "for three months" because he was suffering
greatly "from the illness and death of his spouse." A
representative of the prosecution said that Debbasch's
"contemptuous attitude shows that he has no intention
whatsoever to summit himself to the decisions of the justice
system."



3. (U) The MFA has issued the following statements on Togo.
Informal embassy translations follow. MFA press statements
can be found at www.diplomatie.fr/pointpress.asp?liste. The
site allows viewers to specify the dates of the statements
they want to view.

MFA Statement of February 24


--------------------------


-- QUESTION: Why is Paris, unlike the Africans, the
European Union, Washington, and Berlin, not calling for the
immediate resignation of Faure Gnassingbe who was put in
power by the military in violation of the Togolese
constitution?

-- ANSWER: Our declarations on Togo are perfectly clear:
we have not ceased to call for the return of full
constitutional legality in that country and we have
constantly supported the positions of ECOWAS. I refer you
for further details to my statements of Sunday, February 20.

MFA Statement of February 22


--------------------------


-- QUESTION: ECOWAS has clearly demanded that Faure
Gnassinbe leave power; has France's position evolved or does
it continue to share ECOWAS's position on this matter?

-- ANSWER: Concerning Togo right now, I think you will have
seen the communique we published on Sunday, which I believe

is extremely clear. The French position centers on very
strong notions; first, the need for a return to
constitutional legality in Togo and also the full, entire,
and resolute support for the action undertaken by ECOWAS, and
that is where the two points combine, because ECOWAS's action
is precisely aimed at obtaining a return to full and entire
constitutional legality in Togo. We are in contact with all
our partners in Africa as well as with those in the European
Union. And you will have remarked on Sunday, we took
positive note of the statement by Mr. Faure Gnassingbe, which
announced presidential elections within a period of 60 days,
but, at the same time, we deplored the fact that it has not
been possible yet to find a solution regarding respect for
the Togolese constitution concerning the devolution of
temporary presidential power. In short, to sum up, that is
our position and we are pursuing permanent contact with our
different partners on this subject.

-- QUESTION: Again on Togo, concerning the fact that Faure
Gnassingbe foresees elections within two months. Will France
participate, in one way or another? What do you foresee?
Notably, will France or other Europeans send observers to
ensure the fairness and transparency of the presidential
elections?

-- ANSWER: Yes, you've said it, we call for free,
democratic, and transparent elections. Now, Mr. Faure
Gnassingbe's announcement is only two or three days old, so I
think your question is a bit premature. But without doubt
this is an issue for consultation, notably with our ECOWAS
partners, if not, beyond that, the African Union and
certainly the European Union, to examine what would be
appropriate to do and possible to do. But at this stage, I
don't have precise elements that allow me to answer you.

MFA Statement of February 20


--------------------------



-- Following the measures decided yesterday by ECOWAS
concerning Togo, France reaffirms its total support for the
action undertaken by this organization to obtain a return to
full constitutional legality in that country. France remains
in permanent contact with ECOWAS and in close liaison with
its partners in the European Union and international
community.

-- We emphasize the importance placed, more than ever, on
the organization within the time frame set out in the
Togolese constitution of presidential and legislative
elections, which should be free, democratic, and transparent,
in order to put an end to the transition which began with the
death of President Eyadema. In this regard, we take positive
note of Mr. Faure Gnassingbe's declaration announcing
presidential elections in 60 days.

-- France however deplores that it has not yet been possible
to arrive at a solution, in full respect of the constitution,
concerning the devolution of temporary presidential power.
France calls on Togolese in positions of responsibility to
follow through without delay to the appeal of ECOWAS, to
which it continues to give its full support.

MFA Statement of February 18


--------------------------



-- Concerning Togo, our position is well known. We have had
the chance to express it several times during the past
several days.

-- France continues to support fully the efforts of ECOWAS,
which is continuing its consultations. We hope that these
consultations succeed as rapidly as possible and result in
the announcement of a rapid organization of presidential and
legislative elections that are free, democratic, and
transparent, in order to put an end to the transition which
began with the death of President Eyadema and to return to
the path of democratic legitimacy in Togo.

-- QUESTION: Are you optimistic concerning Togo? Do you
think we are on the way to a return to democracy, a return to
constitutional norms?

-- ANSWER: That is the objective we support. It's the
objective that the heads of state of ECOWAS are seeking, and
we support their efforts, we support the consultations they
are holding, and we hope that they succeed as rapidly as
possible.

-- QUESTION: What do you think of the role of Charles
Debbasch, a French national who seems to advise the Eyadema
family?

-- ANSWER: I have had the chance to express our views on
Professor Debbasch, who is in Togo in his personal capacity
and who, as a consequence, only involves himself individually.

MFA Statement of February 16


--------------------------


-- QUESTION: Seven radio and two television stations,
considered as being close to the opposition, have been shut
down for one week in Togo. What is your reaction?

-- ANSWER: France, as you know, is very attached to the
freedom of the press in all places and in all circumstances.
When we advocate a return to legality in Togo, this principle
clearly applies as well to the freedom of the press.

End MFA Press Statements.
Wolff