FRANÇAFRIQUE LIVES ON!
By Le Canard Enchaîné, US Africa News. Updated 2015-06-26
Ali Bongo is at home in Paris. On June 15, the President of Gabon was at Le Bourget. At the opening of the air show, he attended a demonstration of the Rafale fighter planes alongside President Hollande. The head of the French state turned to his counterpart and casually said, smiling: "As expected, they’ll give you a good price!" That evening, the private Bongo program, according to a document in the possession of the newspaper, Le Canard Enchaîné, the Gabonese President dined at the Hôtel de Brienne with the Minister of Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
The next day, after spending a relaxing night in a palace on Avenue Kléber, a Métro station away from the vast apartments the Bongo family owns on Avenue Foch, the Gabonese head of state continued making mealtime rounds. He had lunch with the journalistic bigwigs at Lagardère Media Group: editorial bosses of "Paris Match", the "Sunday Journal" and Europe 1; took tea with Marie-Christine Zaragoza, the president of France World Media, which oversees the editorial division of France 24 and RFI; and at dinner, was to receive Olivier Pelat, son of the industrialist and Mitterrand intimate Roger-Patrice, and "special guardian" of Liliane Bettancourt. Is the Gabonese President, who has been the subject of a French judicial inquiry over "ill-gotten gains," looking for pointers from the wealth manager?
On June 17, the staff of the Point was invited to breakfast with the strongman of Libreville. An interesting pairing: the weekly is attempting to generate publicity in Africa. Finally, before returning home in the afternoon, Ali Bongo was to participate in a final "working session" with four leaders of a budding communications agency and their lawyer.
Money to Be Made
It is this small company, called Majorelle PR & Events, which concocted the entire Parisian schedule for the Gabonese president, and is now handling his public relations. At its head is Anne Hommel, who has long advised Jean-Christophe Cambadélis (Secretary of the French Socialist Party) and Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Manuel Valls has occasionally hired its services since he became Prime Minister. On July 1, she will be joined by Sacha Mandel. They met while working for Havas Worldwide (formerly Euro RSCG); the outfit chaired by Stéphane Fouks, a pal of Valls. And as the world is decidedly shrinking, the same Mandel is still to this day the press advisor and communication for none other than Jean-Yves Le Drian. So, during Bongo’s Parisian week, he wore both the Ministry of Defense’s helmet and the cap of Majorelle.
On October 12, 2012, before the Senegalese Parliament, Francois Hollande declared: "The time of Françafrique is over." Not for everyone, clearly.