wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
2007-11-16 17:39:00
Embassy Paris
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable
DE RUEHFR #4521/01 3201739
R 161739Z NOV 07
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 004521 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/16/2017

Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt, 1.4 (b/d

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 004521



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/16/2017

Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt, 1.4 (b/d

1. (C) SUBJECT: UFC opposition party leader Gilchrist
Olympio told visiting U.S. Ambassador to Togo David Dunn on
November 8 that he thought that his opposition party deserved
a prominent role in Togo's government given the roughly 50
percent of the vote that it won during the October 14
legislative elections, but he was not confident that the
Faure Gnassingbe government would be willing to offer such a
role. Olympio also said that the UFC would not participate
in the government unless the Faure government offered to make
a UFC official Prime Minister. French officials at the
Presidency, MFA, and MOD viewed the October 14 elections
positively, but cautioned that France, the U.S., and others
should remind the Togolese that they needed to continue
democratic reform. The French were wary that hardline RPT
members might seek to use the RPT's large legislative
majority as a mandate that would allow the RPT to govern as
it wished, without regard to additional democratic reforms.
Our contact at the French Presidency said that the GOF would
actively pursue convicted criminal and Gnassingbe insider
Charles Debbasch. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) U.S. Ambassador to Togo David Dunn met separately
with UFC leader Gilchrist Olympio, AF Presidential advisor
Remi Marechaux, MFA AF PDAS Caroline Dumas and desk officer
Daniel Westerink, and MOD official Jerome Spinoza November
8-9 during a stop-over in Paris.

Gilchrist Olympio

3. (C) Olympio, with whom Ambassador Dunn had met in Accra
just after the October 14 legislative elections, displayed
his usual mixture of defiance and victimization during a
meeting at his home on November 8. Although conceding that
the elections had been relatively well organized and free of
violence, Olympio's central theme/complaint was the
unfairness, in his view, that the opposition received only 31
seats (27 by the UFC), in contrast to the RPT's 50 seats,
despite the oppos
ition's receiving about 50 percent of the
popular vote. Olympio deemed this unjust and undemocratic
and believed that something had to be done to allow for a
greater role for the opposition in governing Togo.
Ambassador Dunn noted that the agreement prior to the
elections had been to hold the elections and to reform the
electoral process thereafter, including the question of
electoral districts, which, as everyone was aware, were

4. (C) Olympio was not mollified by the fact that the
format for the vote was well known in advance and that the
allocation of seats and voting districts always carried the
possibility of disproportionate numbers of seats going to one
party, or the other, depending on how each district voted.
That in fact is what happened, with the RPT gaining a larger
than expected majority at the opposition's expense. Olympio
also viewed with some suspicion the last-minute decision to
place stickers on the backs of ballots, and he expressed
doubt that the stickers could have been printed and
distributed so quickly. He indicated that he was continuing
to contest one of the Lome seats now held by an RPT electee.

5. (C) Olympio said that he met privately with President
Faure under Burkina Faso President Compaore's auspices after
the elections, indicating that he had expressed his
misgivings to Faure about the elected legislature's failure
to represent the popular vote, although he said that he told
Faure that he could accept the results and the numbers.
Olympio claimed that Faure suggested that the RPT and UFC
should work together, which Olympio did not agree with Faure
to do.

6. (C) The problem, Olympio continued, was that electoral
and other reforms would not be feasible with the present
legislature, dominated by the RPT. He referred repeatedly to
the need to obtain concessions from the ruling party that
would allow the opposition a greater role in governing Togo,
although he acknowledged the opposition's lack of leverage.
He spoke of meeting personally with Faure but could not say
what he could use to persuade him, other than the "fairness"
argument. Olympio referred to the 1992 constitution that had
been accepted by voters but that Eyadema later suspended.
Olympio said that it contained useful provisions, but he was
not sure that it could be revived.

7. (C) When Ambassador Dunn probed about the UFC's
intentions regarding participation in the post-election
government Faure would assemble, Olympio said, in an almost
off-hand manner, that the UFC would not participate in the
new government unless it were offered the Prime Minister

PARIS 00004521 002 OF 003

position. Using virtually the same words he had used a year
ago, Olympio said, "we won't accept being given only the
sports and youth ministry." Olympio said that he was going
to Accra on November 9 and then would continue to Lome.

8. (C) COMMENT: The elections seem to have affected
Olympio's thinking in several respects -- first, they had
been held in a non-violent and relatively acceptable manner,
which did not provide much opportunity to criticize Faure
over how they had been conducted. Second, the fact that the
opposition won far fewer seats than the vote count would
suggest seemed to raise his fears that yet again he had been
the victim of manipulation, although he could not claim that
he was unaware going into the elections that such would be
possible. Third, he said several times that he would implore
Faure to make concessions to the opposition but could not
identify any leverage, other than appeals to "fairness," that
he could employ to move Faure to do so or to enforce any
concessions Faure might initially make. Notably, Olympio,
who had previously referred to Faure disparagingly as "le
petit, the boy, le garcon, and le fils," on one occasion
called Faure "the young man," perhaps an unwitting
acknowledgment that Faure was a shrewder and more formidable
rival than Olympio had believed him to be. END COMMENT.

Meetings with French Officials

9. (C) Marechaux (AF Advisor at the Presidency), Dumas and
Westerink (MFA PDAS and desk officer), and Spinoza (MOD
Strategic Affairs Delegation) all agreed that the elections
were a positive step and that Togo was moving in the right
direction. They agreed that the RPT had done better than
expected, in view of which they expressed caution that RPT
hardliners not take the large parliamentary majority as a
mandate for Faure and the RPT to govern as they might wish,
with no regard for the opposition (or the approximately 50
percent of the voting population that had voted for the
opposition). As Marechaux put it, "maybe they won too much."
He expressed concern about backsliding on the RPT's part.
Spinoza at the MOD took a slightly different, more
optimistic, position, expressing the hope that the large
parliamentary majority might allow the RPT to relax and act
more magnanimously.

10. (C) Dumas and Marechaux said that France was going to
continue telling the Faure government that it had to keep
pursuing reform and democratization. They were dismayed to
learn that Olympio had said that he would not participate in
the government if the UFC were not offered the Prime
Ministry, and they agreed with Ambassador Dunn's view that
the UFC might have done better in the elections if it had
decided to participate in the government at a much earlier
stage. The French officials said they valued Ambassador
Dunn's views since a new French Ambassador (Dominique Renaux)
would soon take office in Lome. Both sides promised to
maintain the close contact the French and American missions
in Togo had enjoyed in recent years.

11. (C) Dumas discussed how the elections and Togo's
progress toward democracy could affect the resumption of EU
assistance, much of which was blocked during the Eyadema era
and thereafter. The legislative elections were an important
indicator when considering aid. She noted that FM Kouchner
wanted to include a stop in Lome during an African tour to
Burkina Faso and the DRC but that Faure was in Washington at
the time consulting with the World Bank and IMF. (NOTE: The
Kouchner visit to Africa was later canceled. END NOTE.)
Clearly, the Togolese were well aware that their own behavior
would have great influence with potential donors and they
were perhaps tailoring policies accordingly.

12. (C) Marechaux confided that France would become more
active in seeking custody of Charles Debbasch, the French law
professor and constitutional expert who had long served an a
counselor to the Gnassingbes (and other African autocrats).
Debbasch had been convicted of fraud and embezzlement in
France, a conviction upheld on appeal, and had sought refuge
in Togo. Ambassador Dunn noted his own sightings of Debbasch
in Lome. Marechaux said that President Sarkozy was adamant
that renegade French citizens such as Debbasch not be allowed
to run around unhindered in Africa, which only fueled
suspicions that France, or at least its citizens, was still
pulling the strings somehow. He wanted Debbasch apprehended
and put into prison in France, to serve as an example of how
France would treat people like him and others of his ilk.
Marechaux also mentioned French arms dealer Robert Montoya,
also resident in Togo, as another target, but said that
France would make Debbasch its first priority, since he had
already been convicted in a French court. Marechaux did not
specify the actions France would take but seemed to indicate
that pressure would be placed on the Togolese to release

PARIS 00004521 003 OF 003

Debbasch into French custody.

13. (U) Ambassador Dunn has cleared this message.

Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: fm