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Viewing cable 09PARIS1534, FRANCAFRIQUE" -- MFA DISPUTES REPORTS ON A RETURN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09PARIS1534 2009-11-19 09:09 2010-12-04 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
VZCZCXRO2419
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHFR #1534/01 3230937
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 190937Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7552
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON PRIORITY 1111
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 001534 

SIPDIS 

DEPT FOR AF 
EMBASSIES LONDON AND LISBON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2019 
TAGS: PREL KDEM PGOV KCOR PTER PINR FR
SUBJECT: "FRANCAFRIQUE" -- MFA DISPUTES REPORTS ON A RETURN 
TO BUSINESS AS USUAL 

REF: A. 08 PARIS 1501 
B. 08 PARIS 1568 
C. 08 PARIS 1698 

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

1. (C) Summary: MFA's AF Assistant Secretary-equivalent 
Stephan Gompertz denied that France's approach to Africa is 
backsliding into the patterns of previous administrations' 
"francafrique." He insisted that France is not interfering 
in African countries' internal politics. He said that in 
the recent examples of Gabon, Niger, and Guinea, France has 
supported democratic change. Gompertz admits the "insider" 
influence of Robert Bourgi, and laments that France is still 
not focused on a more strategic approach to Africa. At the 
same time, he claims, (somewhat questionably), that it is the 
MFA's leadership that is driving the GOF's relations in 
Africa. In our view, France remains committed to its stated 
policy of developing transparent partnerships with Africans 
but, when pressed by circumstances, may resort to the more 
opaque ways associated with "francafrique" when doing so is 
in France's national interest. End summary. 

2. (C) During a November 17 meeting with Pol Minister 
Counselor, the MFA's AF Assistant Secretary-equivalent 
Stephan Gompertz disputed the assertions made in a November 
13 New York Times article that France "still pulls the 
strings" in Francophone Africa ("Ill Will Grows in a Former 
Colonial Regional as France Consorts With the Powerful," by 
Adam Nossiter), as well as similar commentary offered in 
recent weeks by the French media. Gompertz strongly denied 
that France interferes in a country's internal politics, and 
asserted that Sarkozy remains serious about moving away from 
the paternalistic and secret dealings of France's 
"francafrique" era. (Note: see Reftels for detailed 
analysis of "France's Changing Africa Policy." End note.) 

RECENT CRITICISMS ARE "UNFAIR" 
----------------------------- 
3. (C) Responding to specific cases cited in the Nossiter 
article, Gompertz said the selective information presented 
was "unfair." He first seized on the example of Gabon's 
recent presidential elections, and insisted that France would 
have supported a different electoral outcome than Ali Bongo 
if the opposition had organized themselves to achieve 
victory. Having received almost 60 percent of the vote, it 
was the splintered and uncoordinated opposition that allowed 
Bongo to win, not France. Gompertz added that in his 
personal view Bongo was a more credible candidate than the 
two main opposition leaders, and asserted that Bongo has done 
"a pretty good job, so far," especially on addressing Gabon's 
endemic corruption. 

4. (C) For Niger, Gompertz said that "we are troubled." (The 
day before, with AF DAS Fitzgerald, Gompertz said that France 
was "embarrassed" by the situation in Niger.) Gompertz 
claimed, however, that France led the international charge 
trying to stop President Tandja from changing the 
constitution and holding elections for a third term. He was 
bothered that the NY Times piece showed an old photo of 
Sarkozy and Tandja together, without explaining that Sarkozy 
later publicly advised Tandja to respect Niger's constitution 
and not stand for a third term. Gompertz added that after 
Tandja succeeded in his constitutional referendum, State 
Secretary Joyandet and later Foreign Minister Kouchner 
publicly and privately encouraged Tandja to postpone his 
election in order to work out a more democratic solution. 
Gompertz acknowledged that France had important interests in 
Niger, in particular its uranium concessions, and that France 
was very concerned about AQIM threats in the country. Still, 
it is unfair to describe France's efforts in Niger were not 
sincere, Gompertz said. 

5. (C) The NY Times article also commented on the situation 
in Guinea, but Gompertz stressed that FM Kouchner was the 
most vocal and active critic of the regime after the 
September 28 violence. According to Gompertz, Kouchner 
pushed for the establishment of the International Contact 
Group, persuaded the EU to take a firm stand and pursue 
sanctions against Guinea's ruling junta, and it was Kouchner 
who convinced Senegalese President Wade to evacuate injured 
opposition leader Cellou Diallo to Dakar. 

6. (C) Gompertz noted that Senior French officials, both at 
the MFA (and, in our experience, at the Elysee) routinely 
meet with African opposition leaders, both in Paris and 
overseas, adding that Joyandet was scheduled to meet with 

PARIS 00001534 002 OF 003 


Cellou Diallo that afternoon. 

FRANCE'S AFRICA POLICY DOES HAVE PROBLEMS 
----------------------------------------- 
7. (C) Gompertz admitted that France's Africa policy does 
have problems, most notably, that France continues to focus 
most of its efforts on its former colonies, even though they 
are not necessarily the most strategically important. 
Gompertz hopes to push for a stronger engagement with 
Anglophone and Lusaphone Africa. (Note: GOF officials 
frequently cite Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa as three of 
France's key emerging partners in Africa. Gompertz was 
departing the same afternoon for Morocco and South Africa. 
End note.) Similarly, too much of France's political and 
cooperation resources in Africa are designed to reinforce its 
partnerships within the international "Francophonie" 
organization. Gompertz cited the example of Burundi, where 
English is replacing French as the most popular foreign 
language, but he said this is understandable given Burundi's 
important trade links in the East African Community. At the 
same time, he related that while he was Ambassador to 
Ethiopia, there was a strong demand for French language 
teachers, but France was not responsive in helping meet this 
need. 

8. (C) Targeting more closely the topic of "francafrique," 
Gompertz said he "regretted" that lawyer and presidential 
advisor Robert Bourgi (touted by the French press as the new 
standard bearer of the old "francafrique") was Sarkozy's 
friend, but "that's a fact of life." While admitting that 
Bourgi operates in the shadows and has influence on France's 
approach to Africa, Gompertz stated forcefully that policy 
for sub-Saharan Africa is led by "Kouchner, Joyandet, and 
me." 

COMMENT AND ANALYSIS 
-------------------- 
9. (C) The sincere and mild-mannered Gompertz almost worked 
up a dander in defending France's approach to Africa as well 
as the importance of the MFA's leadership. However, though 
not entirely at odds with Gompertz's assertions, the GOF's 
Africa policy hands increasingly suggest France's need to 
contrast the importance of stability in a volatile region 
with nobler democratic ideals, as has been shown in Niger, 
Mauritania, Madagascar, and, perhaps, now in Guinea. 
Unfortunately, there was not time during this meeting to ask 
about other notorious "francafrique" hotspots, such as the 
Republic of Congo, Togo, Cameron, and Equatorial Guinea. 
Also, by downplaying the role of Bourgi, and by not 
commenting on the important role of the Presidency's 
Secretary General Claude Gueant (also a friend of Bourgi) in 
shaping France's relations with African leaders, Gompertz, 
perhaps unwittingly, revealed his own concerns about a 
philosophical division between the Elysee and the MFA on 
Africa policy. 

10. (C) Clearly, there is much jostling between the MFA and 
Presidency for Africa policy leadership. Remi Marechaux, one 
of the staff-level Africa advisors at the Elysee, scoffs 
whenever the issue of a resurgent "francafrique" is raised. 
He pointedly notes that during "francafrique's" heyday under 
the legendary Jacques Foccart, the Africa cell at the 
Presidency numbered about 80, including its own intelligence 
unit. Marechaux contrasts that with today's Africa cell at 
the Presidency, consisting of himself, Romain Serman (soon to 
be replaced by Clement Leclerc), and their recently-arrived 
boss (and Deputy Diplomatic Advisor) Andre Parant, who 
replaced Bruno Joubert. Marechaux bristles at the notion 
that the three of them are pulling strings the way their 80 
predecessors did. Marechaux says that the role of the 
Elysee's Africa cell is to channel the policy ideas of 
President Sarkozy (admittedly influenced by Bourgi, Gueant, 
special advisor Henri Guaino, and Sarkozy's other close 
associates) and that the MFA's role is to do what 
bureaucracies traditionally do -- either implement those 
ideas or explain, with bureaucratic thoroughness, why those 
ideas are not feasible. 

11. (C) Our own view is that there is a wide range of policy 
approaches available to the French, a spectrum running from 
the more ideal approaches Sarkozy expressed in his early days 
in office (reftels) to the more opaque but possibly more 
expedient approaches conforming to the old "francafrique" 
model. Circumstances and the unpredictable, sometimes 
violent nature of events in Africa may at times tempt or even 
force the French to act less ideally than they may want -- a 
form of behavior familiar to every other government in the 

PARIS 00001534 003 OF 003 


world -- when decisions are based on a need to further the 
national interest in the most effective way possible, even 
when the most effective way may not be the prettiest way. We 
find the GOF's professional cadre of Africa hands accessible, 
open, and wanting to find common ground with the U.S. in many 
situations. Gompertz appeared as a man with a burden lifted 
when he was reminded of The New York Times' November 17 
article asserting large-scale corruption by Equatorial 
Guinean Minister (and the President's son), Teodoro Nguema 
Obiang, reportedly a frequent visitor to and investor in the 
U.S. 

12. (U) Conakry and Tripoli minimize considered. 
PEKALA
...