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Viewing cable 08ABIDJAN396, THE NEW BLE GOUDE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ABIDJAN396 2008-06-18 16:04 2010-12-09 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abidjan
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAB #0396/01 1701629
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 181629Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4317
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0210
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L ABIDJAN 000396 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/09/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR SOCI UN IV
SUBJECT: THE NEW BLE GOUDE 

Classified By: POL/ECON SECTION CHIEF SILVIA EIRIZ FOR REASONS 1.4 (B/D 
). 

1. (C) Summary. Charles Ble Goude, leader of COJEP 
(PanAfrican Congress of Young Patriots), is one of three 
Ivorians under United Nations (UN) Security Council 
sanctions. However, an offensive seems to be underway, 
bolstered by the presidential camp, to re-shape Ble Goude's 
public image and portray him as a future statesman. Ble 
Goude's transformation began with his national tour in 2007 
to promote reconciliation. He has gained prominence recently 
by launching a foundation that provides skills training and 
employment for youth. All indications are that President 
Gbagbo and some of his closest advisors continue to embrace 
this divisive and controversial figure. End Summary. 

2. (U) Ble Goude was placed under UN sanctions on February 7, 
2006 for repeated public statements advocating violence 
against UN installations, UN personnel, and foreigners, as 
well as directing and participating in acts of violence by 
street militias, including beatings, rapes, and extrajudicial 
killings. The UN determined that he intimidated the UN, the 
International Working Group (IWG), the political opposition, 
and the independent press and sabotaged international radio 
stations. The UN also found that he was an obstacle to the 
action of the IWG, the United Nations Operation in Cote 
d'Ivoire (UNOCI), the French forces, and the peace process as 
defined by resolution 1643 of 2005. 

3. (C) Ble Goude kept a low profile for some time after 
sanctions were imposed but has, since last year, undertaken 
actions to transform his public image from leader of an armed 
militia to statesman. He has been very visible in the media 
in the last three months in what appears to be a charm 
offensive to demonstrate to the Ivoiran public that he is a 
serious political actor. He has conducted press interviews 
and his second book is scheduled to be released during the 
month of June. According to the French Embassy, Ble Goude 
has become a wealthy businessman, with substantial holdings 
in hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, gas stations, and real 
estate in Cote d'Ivoire. French Emboff told us that Ble 
Goude requires payment for all activities he undertakes on 
behalf of the Presidency and the FPI governing party. 

4. (U) Ble Goude began his political career in the Student 
Federation of Cote d'Ivoire (FESCI), rising through the ranks 
to succeed current Prime Minister Soro as FESCI's Secretary 
General from 1998 to 2000. In 2001, he founded COJEP (the 
Pan African Congress of Young Patriots) which he continues to 
lead. Ble Goude started his public transformation by casting 
himself as a peacemaker and conciliator when he launched a 
"peace caravan" in 2007. Over the course of 3 months, he 
visited 45 towns throughout the country, spreading the theme 
of reconciliation between rebel and government supporters. 
Although many observers doubted and continue to doubt his 
sincerity, Ble Goude evidently delivered a consistent message 
of peace and reconciliation in his speeches to the youth. 

5. (U) His newest venture is the launching of a "Forum of 
Information and Orientation" that will provide skills 
training and find jobs for 200 youth. Minister of National 
Reconciliation Sebastien Dano Djedje, a member of the 
President's FPI party, delivered a speech at the project's 
March 14 launching ceremony. According to Ble Goude, 12,000 
young people contacted his Forum seeking to be selected. 
Minister for Planning and Development Paul-Antoine Bohoun 
Bouabre, also an FPI member, publicly presented Ble Goude 
with a check for 5 million CFA (USD 12,000) to support this 
project. Ble Goude's forum was covered on national TV and 
interviews with him were run several times. 

6. (U) The June 6 edition of the government's newspaper, 
"Fraternite Matin," featured an interview with Ble Goude 
photographed in a suit and tie. Ble Goude said he launched 
his Forum because as head of a youth movement, he has an 
obligation to guide the country's youth. He lamented that 
Cote d'Ivoire's moral fiber has weakened, leading people to 
seek shortcuts around the law and to take into account only 
those with financial means. Asked by his interviewer to 
comment on the arrest of DRC rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, 
Ble Goude responded that one is never a rebel for life, 
adding that either one becomes a member of society or ends up 
like Charles Taylor or Jean-Pierre Bemba or Jonas Savimbi. 

7. (C) While Ble Goude does not seem to have the following he 
commanded several years ago, he still has his COJEP faithful 
that he could mobilize. He also maintains a strong influence 
over FESCI. Konan Bertin Kouadio, President of the Youth 
Section of opposition political party PDCI, told Poloffs June 
10 that Ble Goude cannot organize the demonstrations and 
disturbances that he carried out several years ago, but that 
a large number of youth would still take to the streets if he 
gave the order. RDR Youth Section head Yayoro Karamokotel 
told Poloff that Ble Goude is Gbagbo's youth campaign 
manager. Skepticism about whether Ble Goude is genuinely 
committed to peaceful political dialogue remains quite high. 

8. (C) Comment. President Gbagbo has repeatedly asked the UN 
to lift sanctions against Ble Goude and reportedly remains 
one of his strongest supporters, along with Simone Gbagbo. 
The choice of Ble Goude as youth campaign manager is clever 
because the charismatic Ble Goude can easily motivate and 
mobilize. It is disturbing, however, that Gbagbo's camp 
seems to be grooming Ble Goude for future positions in the 
party and/or the government rather than distancing itself 
from someone who remains under UN sanctions and who is still 
a divisive and controversial figure at home. Embassy contacts 
seem convinced that the government is financing the bulk of 
Ble Goude's activities, which raises concerns about Gbagbo's 
genuine commitment to implementation of the Ouagadougou 
Political Agreement (OPA). The government can finance Ble 
Goude's jobs for youth initiative, but states it lacks the 
funds for the civic service program for ex-combatants, which 
is an integral part of the OPA. It appears that Ble Goude is 
succeeding in his effort to re-define himself to the Ivorian 
public, but whether his actions will eventually bear out his 
new image remains to be seen. End Comment. 
NESBITT