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Viewing cable 06PARIS741, TOGO: EX-MINISTER BOKO DISCUSSES RECENT EVENTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06PARIS741 2006-02-03 15:03 2010-12-09 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
VZCZCXRO5506
RR RUEHPA
DE RUEHFR #0741/01 0341536
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 031536Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3915
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1163
RUEHWD/AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK 0279
RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK 0091
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0012
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 000741 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2016 
TAGS: PREL PHUM MARR PINR TO FR
SUBJECT: TOGO: EX-MINISTER BOKO DISCUSSES RECENT EVENTS 
AND HIS PLANS TO ENTER POLITICAL FRAY 

REF: A. 05 PARIS 4103 
B. LOME 55 
C. PARIS 553 
D. 05 PARIS 952 
E. 05 PARIS 1229 

PARIS 00000741 001.2 OF 004 


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

1. (C) SUMMARY: Togo's former Interior Minister Francois 
Boko on January 31 discussed Togo-Cote d'Ivoire arms 
trafficking (planes piloted by Belarusian mercenaries were 
involved in the November 2004 bombings in Cote d'Ivoire and 
had transited Togo, but France did not pursue information 
Boko says he provided); political developments in Togo 
(President Faure uninterested in reform, continues to allow 
and benefit from illicit activities of his associates); and 
Boko's intentions to play a public role in Togo-related 
politics. Boko and the head of the Paris law firm that 
employs him also offered brief comments on China's activities 
in Africa. END SUMMARY. 

2. (C) At his invitation, we met on January 31 with 
Francois Boko, who had served as Togo's Interior Minister 
until April 2005, when he was removed from office, took 
refuge in the German Embassy, and then left for exile in 
France. Boko had broken ranks with the GoT by calling for 
the postponement of elections in Togo in view of the 
instability building during the pre-election period (Ref A). 

TOGO-COTE d'IVOIRE ARMS TRAFFICKING 
----------------------------------- 
3. (C) Boko commented extensively on the links between Togo 
and the November 6, 2004, bombing in Cote d'Ivoire, when GOCI 
forces attacked a French military base, killing nine French 
soldiers and an Amcit civilian. He said that the two 
Sukhoi-25 aircraft used in the bombing had been provided to 
the GOCI by former French gendarme Robert Montoya (Refs B and 
C). Montoya had obtained these and other aircraft and 
military equipment from Belarus and had also engaged 
Belarusian pilots and technicians. The planes had arrived 
unassembled in Togo, where they were assembled and then flown 
to Cote d'Ivoire. Boko said that the GoT leadership and 
military were aware of the presence of the planes and 
pilots/technicians in Togo. Boko said that French forces 
also had to be aware of their presence because the Belarusian 
planes were kept at the same Lome air facility the French 
were using to operate their own air missions in support of 
French forces in Cote d'Ivoire. 

4. (C) After the November 6 bombings, Boko said that he had 
had the Belarusian pilots/technicians arrested when they 
returned to Togo from Cote d'Ivoire. He said that there were 
nine of them. Boko said he furnished details about their 
identities and activities to the French, through France's 
Embassy in Lome and also through direct contact with General 
Poncet, who then commanded France's Operation Licorne in Cote 
d'Ivoire. Boko thought there would be high French interest 
in the information he had conveyed but was surprised when the 
French did not express much interest. After holding the nine 
Belarusians for about two weeks, Boko was told by the French 
(including General Poncet, who communicated directly with 
Boko) to release them. The only explanation he received 
(again including from General Poncet) was that France "was 
not looking to complicate relations with Belarus over this 
matter." 

5. (C) Boko said he found this lack of French interest 
surprising inasmuch as the bombing had resulted in the deaths 
of French soldiers. He predicted that a scandal was brewing 
that might erupt once French judicial investigation (Ref C, 
paras 6-7) of the case unearthed more facts. Boko said that 
recent French media reports on the "discovery" of a second 
set of planes in Lome, along with their connection to 
Montoya, were in fact an old story that the press should have 
reported a year ago. This issue was "news" only because of 
Judge Brigitte Raynaud's investigation, itself prompted by 
legal claims on the part of the families of the soldiers 
killed in the raid. The planes had been sitting unused at 
the Lome air facility since the time of the bombings in Cote 
d'Ivoire. 

6. (C) Boko said that Robert Montoya was among the group of 
French and other non-Togolese that had long had access to the 
Eyadema regime. This group, which included Charles Debbasch 
(Ref D), was involved in a great deal of nefarious activity 
in Togo, Boko asserted, and had always enjoyed the protection 
of the regime. Boko said that after the French press this 

PARIS 00000741 002.2 OF 004 


past week had begun reporting on Montoya, his arms 
trafficking, and his connection to Cote d'Ivoire, Montoya's 
wife went to a notary in Togo who handled Montoya's 
businesses. This notary, according to Boko, dissolved all of 
Montoya's businesses and then created new ones, but listed 
different owners. This, Boko said, was done to protect 
Montoya's assets should legal action be taken against him or 
his companies. Boko said that the GoT had issued Debbasch a 
Togolese diplomatic passport as a form of protection. Even 
though Debbasch had been convicted of financial offenses in 
France and was therefore subject to arrest (Ref E), Boko 
claims that Debbasch traveled to France to celebrate the 
December 2005 holidays without, apparently, being hindered by 
the GoF. 

7, (U) See concluding paragraphs of this message for recent 
media reports on the investigation into the November 6, 2004, 
bombing. 

DEVELOPMENTS IN TOGO 
-------------------- 
8. (C) Boko said that Faure was making no effort to 
institute reform and seemed content to live within the 
structures Eyadema had left for him. Boko related that the 
small inner circle surrounding Faure (which included 
foreigners such as Montoya and Debbasch) continued to carry 
out their illicit activities, which benefited themselves and 
Faure as well. This reliance on criminal or quasi-criminal 
activities allowed Faure to lead a comfortable, if not 
luxurious, life, and provided no incentive for him to 
institute the kinds of reforms that might make Togo more 
acceptable to international lenders or private sector 
investors. All of which was very bad for Togo, in Boko's 
view. 

9. (C) Boko noted Faure's inability to gain international 
"recognition." No one of significance wanted to meet with 
him and he could be considered a pariah internationally. One 
of his only formal trips abroad had been to Iran, and who 
needed Iran's blessing, Boko asked rhetorically. Boko said 
that Faure had nine wives, one of whom was a cousin of 
opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio (see below), with another 
being the daughter of Ghana's President Kufuor. Boko said 
these marriages were useful for Faure politically. 

BOKO EXASPERATED WITH THE FRENCH 
-------------------------------- 
10. (C) Throughout the meeting, Boko expressed dismay with 
French attitudes towards Togo. The French apparently did not 
want to pursue the November 2004 bombing and the links with 
Togo and Belarus, but this reticence, he again predicted, 
could become more problematic if Judge Raynaud's 
investigation gained traction with the media. (NOTE: French 
investigative judges have a great deal of independence and 
can pursue investigations that in some cases the rest of the 
GoF might not want investigated. END NOTE.) Boko said the 
French also did not seem concerned about Faure and his 
failure to reform. Exasperated, Boko said France appeared 
ready to do what it has done so many times before -- back 
"the man of the moment" so long as "the man" can ensure some 
degree of stability. Boko noted that the French had invested 
so much in Eyadema that they perhaps could not contemplate 
starting from scratch. He acknowledged that events in Cote 
d'Ivoire, after Houphouet's death, may have served as a 
lesson to the French in terms of seeking stability rather 
than letting chaos ensue when a dynasty ends. 

BOKO'S POLITICAL AMBITIONS 
-------------------------- 
11. (C) Boko confided that he was soon going to re-enter 
the Togolese political scene. He was scheduled to be the 
main speaker at a February 4 event in Paris to which all 
Togolese, the press, and friends of Togo were invited. He 
explained that he was not speaking at this event to proclaim 
himself as the "opposition's new leader," but instead hoped 
that the meeting would allow for open discussion of events in 
Togo and serve as a vehicle for uniting the Togolese diaspora. 

12. (C) Boko said he planned to speak on three general 
themes: (1) the need for Togo's opposition leaders and 
members of the diaspora to put aside factional differences 
and meet together to discuss Togo's future and adopt a common 
roadmap for progress; (2) the need to reassure and win over 
Togo's military by explaining that "reform" was not directed 
against the military; and (3) the need to unite in demanding 
that Togo's constitution and laws be respected, particularly 
concerning presidential succession. 


PARIS 00000741 003.2 OF 004 


13. (C) Boko at an earlier meeting revealed that the GoF, 
upon allowing him to live in France, suggested that he not 
get involved in politics. Pressed about this, Boko countered 
that he was not a formal "political refugee" and that he was 
therefore not subject to GoF control over his activities. He 
did say, however, that he had informed the GoF that he would 
not speak publicly about "sensitive" issues, such as the 
Montoya affair or Togo's role in international drug 
smuggling. He told the French that he would focus on Togo's 
future and how to instill political change in a positive 
manner. Boko indicated that GoF security elements provide 
intermittent surveillance of his home and workplace to 
protect him and his family. 

RIVALRY WITH OLYMPIO? 
--------------------- 
14. (C) Boko said he did not have much contact with 
Gilchrist Olympio, who seemed to want to avoid Boko and who 
resented the possibility of Boko's becoming a new opposition 
figure. In Boko's opinion, Olympio was past his prime and 
should understand that a new generation was on the scene. It 
was futile for Olympio to try to refight political battles 
dating back to the 1960s, when Eyadema ousted Olympio's 
father from power and may have been involved in his death. 
Boko was very annoyed that after the February 4 meeting was 
announced in December, Olympio a few weeks later announced a 
meeting of his own, to take place at the same time and on the 
same date as Boko's February 4 meeting. To Boko, this was a 
ham-fisted attempt to disrupt Boko's meeting. Boko said the 
Togolese community harshly criticized Olympio's announcement. 
Realizing his error, Olympio had not said anything further 
about holding his meeting and Boko was not sure it would take 
place. Boko expected 400-500 to attend Boko's meeting. 

15. (C) Boko also criticized Olympio for his willingness to 
meet with and possibly curry favor with Faure. He noted that 
Olympio seemed to go out of his way to travel to places where 
he knew he would have a chance to meet with Faure. This, 
Boko claimed, discredited Olympio in the eyes of the Togolese 
diaspora. As a parting shot, Boko said that Olympio suffered 
credibility problems because Faure was married to one of 
Olympio's relatives. 

16. (C) COMMENT: It was not clear from Boko's remarks the 
extent to which he is prepared to anoint himself a leader (or 
THE leader) of the Togolese opposition. He denied that he 
intended to do so, speaking of his simple desire to unite the 
Togolese people. Still, his own ambition did not lie deeply 
below the surface of his comments, and we will try to assess 
his motives as well as the degree to which the Togolese 
community views him as a new leader. END COMMENT. 

17. (SBU) BIO NOTE: Boko said he was happy working at the 
law offices of Alain Feneon, where he is one of five lawyers 
engaged in facilitating the work of non-African companies in 
Africa. He said, however, that he was applying for one of 
the four vacant vice-presidency positions at the African 
Development Bank. At the same time, his French-citizen wife 
was applying for a position at the EU in Brussels, which 
would require commuting daily by TGV. He said he did not 
know how feasible obtaining either job would be, as they 
would both place strains on the Boko household, which would 
be complicated by the birth of his second child within the 
next few weeks. Boko said the couple also had a 
nine-year-old son. 

VISIT TO LAW OFFICE, COMMENTS ON CHINA 
-------------------------------------- 
18, (C) Boko offered a tour of his law office, where we met 
with the firm's head, Alain Feneon (PROTECT THROUGHOUT). The 
firm is heavily engaged in providing consulting services and 
legal advice to companies doing business in Africa and to a 
few African groups seeking opportunities in Europe. The firm 
has operated since 1978 and Feneon has been closely involved 
in the OHADA project to harmonize the commercial and business 
laws of several African countries. He described the 
difficulties of reconciling civil and common law approaches 
but stressed the great progress OHADA has made. 

19. (C) Feneon and Boko described the appeal of Africa to 
international businesses, particularly those interested in 
infrastructure development and resource extraction. Boko 
said he was working on several projects involving UNDP 
activity in Africa and one case involving Benin and the 
Millennium Challenge Corporation. Boko noted that Faure had 
recently rescinded an oil contract with the Hunt Oil Co.; he 
suspected that Faure would make a new deal with the Chinese. 


PARIS 00000741 004.2 OF 004 


20. (C) Feneon said he was aware of "at least 500 Chinese 
companies," most of which were state owned, seeking 
opportunities in Africa. He said the Chinese were 
"interested in everything." Several clients of Feneon's firm 
are Chinese and he provided a brochure on the firm printed in 
Chinese. Feneon described one case involving China and 
Namibia. He said that Namibia had been unable to repay a 
Chinese loan. The Chinese, he said, quickly told Namibia, 
"don't worry about it. Just give us 5,000 passports and 
residency documents." Feneon claimed that 5,000 Chinese 
families were resettled in Namibia as a result and were now 
engaged in any number of small and large business activities 
in Namibia. Feneon commented that this kind of arrangement 
helped solve two problems for the Chinese: easing population 
pressures and establishing communities in Africa that could 
be of use to China later. 

PRESS REPORTS ON TOGO-COTE d'IVOIRE-MONTOYA 
------------------------------------------- 
21. (SBU) Paris daily Le Monde carried two articles on 
January 31 concerning the investigations into the November 6, 
2004, bombing incident in Cote d'Ivoire and the Togo/Montoya 
connection. This followed previous Le Monde coverage 
reported Ref C. One article said that Judge Raynaud's visit 
to Togo in mid-January had been useful and that she obtained 
numerous documents implicating Montoya, whom she reportedly 
wanted to prosecute for "complicity" in the bombing. French 
General Michel Masson of the French military's Directorate 
for Military Intelligence reportedly confirmed Montoya's 
involvement in supplying the two aircraft that did the 
bombing. The article also outlines Montoya's involvement 
with the Belarusian pilots/technicians (the article says 
there were eight of them, whereas Boko said there were nine). 
The Belarusians were reportedly released from Togolese 
custody into the care of a Belarusian woman who turned out to 
be Montoya's secretary. Le Monde reports that Montoya is 
also under investigation by Togolese authorities. Montoya is 
quoted in the article as admitting his involvement in the 
affair but denying its illegality. 

22. (U) The second Le Monde article contains statements by 
the Ivoirian members of the crews of the two aircraft 
involved in the bombing (both aircraft were piloted by a 
Belarusian with an Ivoirian co-pilot). The Ivoirians are 
quoted as saying they did not intend to attack the French 
base but rather nearby hostile forces. Because of the 
proximity to the base, any bombing of the French was 
accidental. 





Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm 

Stapleton