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Viewing cable 09PARIS815, MAURITANIA: FRENCH SEE ABDALLAHI AS OBSTACLE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09PARIS815 2009-06-18 13:01 2010-12-04 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Paris
VZCZCXRO2217
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHFR #0815/01 1691345
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 181345Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6481
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY 2635
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1719
RHMFIUU/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 000815 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2019 
TAGS: PREL PINS PGOV PINR PTER MR FR
SUBJECT: MAURITANIA: FRENCH SEE ABDALLAHI AS OBSTACLE 

REF: A. NOUAKCHOTT 398 AND PREVIOUS 
B. HANKINS JUNE 18 E-MAIL 

Classified By: Political Counselor Andrew Young, 1.4 (b/d). 

1. (C/NF) SUMMARY: Presidential AF-advisor Romain Serman 
on June 18 said that deposed Mauritanian President Abdallahi 
seemed to be blocking final political agreement over the 
Dakar accord. France was prepared to call a "stop" to the 
process and urge that the Dakar accord be implemented as is, 
with or without Abdallahi's agreement or participation, which 
could encourage cooperation on Abdallahi's part. Serman said 
that junta leader Aziz visited Paris "privately" on June 12 
and met with Presidential Secretary-General Claude Gueant, 
with discussion focusing on terrorism. Serman said that 
President Sarkozy planned soon on chairing a high-level GOF 
meeting on terrorism in the Sahel, which indicated the level 
of French concern about terrorism in the region. Serman 
criticized businessman/lobbyist Robert Bourgi for his role in 
arranging Aziz's meeting with Gueant and for several press 
leaks involving Aziz and the late President Bongo of Gabon. 
Serman said that Bourgi should not be viewed in any manner as 
a representative or spokesman for the GOF, including with 
respect to his most recent activities in Madagascar to 
promote himself and his business interests. END SUMMARY. 

MAURITANIA 

XXXXXXXXXXXX

AZIZ'S VISIT TO PARIS 

5. (C) Serman confirmed press reports that junta leader 
Aziz traveled to Paris and met with Presidential 
Secretary-General Claude Gueant on June 12. Serman said the 
visit was engineered by businessman and self-styled AF 
lobbyist Robert Bourgi, who had ties to Gueant and to 
President Sarkozy pre-dating Sarkozy's election to the 
presidency (see below for further on Bourgi). Bourgi 
encouraged Aziz to make a "private" visit, flew Aziz to 
France on one of his own planes, and arranged the meeting 
with Gueant. Serman, who did not attend the Aziz-Gueant 
meeting, understood that it consisted largely of a discussion 
of the growing terrorism problem in the Sahel, a subject of 
keen interest to Gueant. Serman said that they "undoubtedly" 

PARIS 00000815 002 OF 002 


discussed the situation in Mauritania but he could offer no 
details. 

FRENCH CONCERN ABOUT TERRORISM IN THE SAHEL 

6. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX 

(C/NF) ROBERT BOURGI 

7. (C/NF) Serman's mention of Bourgi allowed us to ask 
about his role and influence, a subject of episodic reporting 
in the press, where Bourgi is depicted as one of the last 
"France-Afrique" fixers, middlemen, operators, and 
businessmen. Serman said that Bourgi had longstanding ties 
to Gueant and Sarkozy but that he was first and foremost a 
self-promoting businessman looking out for his own interests. 
A true wheeler-dealer, Bourgi's main "client" had been 
Gabon's recently-deceased President Bongo. Bourgi also had 
ties to ROC's Sassou Nguesso and to Senegal's Wade, although 
these were less significant than his ties to Bongo. 

8. (C/NF) Serman said that Bourgi was rapidly burning his 
bridges, however, and this was causing his influence to drop 
precipitously among the French and Africans as well. Bourgi 
was the source of the press leak announcing Bongo's death 
before the Gabonese were prepared to make the announcement 
themselves. This leak angered Bongo's family. Serman 
reported that Sarkozy was also unhappy about the leak, 
especially since the information was attributed in the press 
to "a source close to the French government," which tended to 
make observers think that the GOF was responsible for the 
leak or tacitly approved of it, which was not the case. 

9. (C/NF) The French were also annoyed that Bourgi leaked 
the fact of Aziz's meeting with Gueant to the press. Aziz's 
visit to France was supposed to be private, as was his 
meeting with Gueant. In Serman's view, Bourgi leaked news of 
the event in an effort to demonstrate his continuing clout 
after the Bongo episode. Serman said this was backfiring, 
however, as the French, including especially Sarkozy and 
Gueant, were not at all pleased with the leak. Serman said 
that Bourgi "is no fool, but sometimes it seems he can't help 
himself when there's an opportunity for self-promotion, even 
if he knows it might cost him." 

10. (C/NF) Although Madagascar was not his area of 
expertise, Serman was aware of Bourgi's attempts to play a 
"fixer" role there amidst the current political turmoil, 
"which gives him an opportunity to place himself in the thick 
of things.". Serman said that Bourgi was eager to score new 
business in response to the potential loss of the Gabon 
account and his alienation of the Bongo clan. Serman said 
that Bourgi also had new rivals for influence, with the 
opening up of the old "France-Afrique" network that Sarkozy 
has encouraged since taking office; this too was causing 
Bourgi to scramble for new business. Speaking with emphasis, 
Serman said that "you should be aware that in Madagascar and 
everywhere else he is active, Bourgi does not represent the 
French government and does not speak for us. And you should 
tell everybody else that too." 

11. (C/NF) Serman concluded by noting that Bourgi often 
used "La Lettre du Continent," the bi-weekly, Paris-based 
newsletter covering principally francophone Africa, as the 
vehicle for his news leaks. Serman advised that anything 
appearing in "La Lettre" smacking of a possible Bourgi 
connection should be read with caution, and that one should 
keep in mind that Bourgi's primary objective was 
self-promotion for the purpose of self-enrichment. 



. 
PEKALA