DENIS SASSOU NGUESSO
By CAROLINE MANGEZ , US Africa News. Updated 2015-04-09
USAN: You, yourself are very involved in the Central African Republic, why hasn’t that country managed to stabilize? Who is responsible for its chaos?
Denis Sassou Nguesso [President, Republic of Congo]: The history leading up to today’s actors is quite short. Since independence, CAR has experienced a confusing journey, always in close relationship with France. The first head of this state, Bartholomew Boganda, died in a plane crash, the circumstances of which were never clarified, shortly after his election. Dacko succeeded him, and was quickly overthrown by the disastrous Bokassa, whose proximity to France has not been demonstrated. The same Dacko is then reinstalled in Bangui, dropped off by plane from Paris. Then General Andre Kolingba is installed in a sweeping coup. He did not even pretend to lead. When we heads of neighboring states arrived at the airport, it would be a French commander, Mansion, who stood in shorts and shirt to welcome us. Then Patassé came and had his turn before being swept out by Bozizé with the help of the French army ... This drama has gone on for fifty years.
USAN: The lawyer Robert Bourgi said he carried suitcases on your behalf to candidate Nicolas Sarkozy in the last French presidential election... Is this true?
Denis Sassou Nguesso: That’s an irresponsible statement, in my opinion. But when you know who it’s coming from, it is not surprising. It is risky to speak, given how complex relationships at the State level are.
USAN: What inspired your criticism against "Françafrique"?
Denis Sassou Nguesso: When we speak of Françafrique, one has to consider the States and their interests. Who does the relationship benefit most, Africa or France? It is hard to say. While we can say that the "Françafrique" was wrong, it is still necessary to come up with a new relationship that will be better. Because it’s in everyone's interest. When General De Gaulle launched the idea of Franco-African community, it was with the idea on the one hand that aid from France would support our continent, but on the other hand, your country [France] was gaining influence in the United Nations. When all francophone African countries unanimously joined their voices to those of your government, has this helped us? The Germans are now demanding that African francs, the currency of sovereign states, become part of the operating accounts of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development rather than those of the Bank of France. The latter is resisting because this African money allows it to raise huge funds at ridiculous rates.
USAN: You are indignant that in France presidents can be called to account for their expenses, does this mean that you do not envy their fate?
Denis Sassou Nguesso: In our culture, we have an idea of the leader. Not everyone is a leader and the leader is not everyone, especially in a democracy; a majority designates the leader. One must give him consideration. Imitating what is done at home, some African newspapers go about dragging their leaders in the mud. In my opinion, this only leads to what General de Gaulle called chaos. When De Gaulle represented France abroad, he was not hesitant to spend money or to give balls to improve his image.
USAN: How are you paid?
Denis Sassou Nguesso: I have been an agent of the State from the very beginning. The state pays me a salary that allows me to live comfortably with my family. Money is useful to me, but that's not what guides my life. I engaged in otherwise toughest battles without thinking.
USAN: You are not a spendthrift?
Denis Sassou Nguesso: I don’t have the leisure. It’s my children, during their travel, who buy and bring me what they think I need. I never go to a store. If you asked me to empty my pockets, all I go out with is a handkerchief.
USAN: You just celebrated your 70th birthday and have spent twenty-eight years at the top of the State. Have you thought about your successor?
Denis Sassou Nguesso: That’s not on the agenda yet.