By Owei Lakemfa
WITH all its pretentions to international democracy, liberty and the brotherhood of man, France on Tuesday October 27, 2009 opened its presidential doors to Mauritanian coup plotter, General Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz. The General had on August 6, 2008 overthrown the democratically elected President, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France had backed the coupÂ by claiming that:Â â€œThe Mauritanian coup was not opposed or protested by any of the members of its parliamentâ€. Meaning that since parliamentarians with guns held over their heads did not protest, the coup was legitimate.
ObviouslyÂ acting on the advice of the French government, Aziz installed a puppet as acting President on June 26, 2009, peeled off his uniform and won theÂ July 18â€œelectionsâ€ supervised by his junta. An ecstatic SarkozyÂ declared that â€œthe election of Mohammed Abdul Aziz will make it possible to put an end to the uncertain transitions in Mauritaniaâ€.
For France, that deceptive act had transformed the coup plotters in Mauritania into democrats, and the military regime has now become democratically elected. Therefore, France can doÂ business with the coup plotters and get its allies in Europe to recognise the Mauritanian regime and resume aid suspended following the coup. It is like saying once drug money is laundered, it becomes legitimate and the rest of the world should do business with such drug barons.
Given Franceâ€™s positive disposition towards the Mauritanian military rulers, it will be logical for it to roll out the red carpet for the military butchers in Guinea, provided their leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara contests and â€œwinsâ€ the general elections the regime plans to hold on January 31, 2009.
Military dictators legitimising their rule through dubious elections is an old trick played by people like General Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, Captain Blaise Campore of Burkina Faso, General Mobutu Seseseko of Zaire ( now DRC)Â and Lt Col Jean-Baptiste Bagaza in Burundi with France backing them. France had also padded the dictatorial rule of Omar Bongo in Gabon and has just assisted his son, Ali Bongo to polish his rigged elections and continue the corrupt anddictatorial rule of the Bongo dynasty.
France has an history of quite brutal colonial rule and of course greed. Even after Adolf Hitler had defeated it and it had lost its colonies in Indo-China, it greedily attempted to re impose colonial rule until its humiliating defeat at the famous battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 where within 55 days, the Vietnamese wiped out 13,500 French soldiers.
Some of its most horrendous massacres occurred in Algeria whichÂ France, with a million of its citizens living there, regarded as an integral part of metropolitan France. Although it militarily won the 1956-57 â€œBattle Of Algiersâ€ it could not hold the rest of the country nor conquer the indomitable spirit of the Algerian people.
In 1956, the United States, Britain and the IBRD (World Bank) decided not to assist Egypt, then led by Gamal Abdel Nasser to build the Aswan Dam which was essential for the countryâ€™s development. Egypt decided to nationalise its Suez Canal and use the revenue to build the dam.
An angry France and Britain saw this as an affront andÂ began the bombardment of Egyptian towns culminating in the ground invasion by French and British troops on November 5, 1956. A visibly angry United Nations General Assembly passed a motion without any dissent establishing an international force for Egypt and asking all foreign troops toÂ leave.
Although they destroyed the residential area of Port Said andÂ rendered the Suez Canal temporarily unusable, France and Britain failed in their mission to overthrow the Nasser government and were forced in disgrace to withdraw their troops by November 22, 1956.
Next, France conspired with Belgium and America toÂ overthrow the elected Congolese Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba in 1960, got him executed and imposed then Colonel Joseph Mobutu as president. With French military and political backing, Mobutu ravaged and looted the country until a popular revolt forced him into exile.
On October 26, 1972 a radical group in the Benin army led by Major Mathieu Kerekou overthrew the pro French Presidential Council. A stung French government bided its time until January 16, 1977 when mercenaries trained in Morocco and using Gabon as base, invaded Benin. The mission which was traced to France failed.
OnÂ May 13, 1978 the government of the Comoros headed by Ali Soilih was overthrown by pro-France mercenaries led by the notorious Bob Denard, a veteran mercenary who had been on hire in Biafra (Nigeria), Congo, Angola, South Yemen and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
Denard was a mercenary trained and deployed mainly in Africa by the French intelligence service. One of the Comoran coup financiers, Ahmed Abdallah came in from France to take over the presidency and France recognised his regime. On July 1, 1978, that is on the fiftieth day of the coup, France established full diplomatic relationsÂ with the mercenaries regime.
The White mercenaries ran the Comoros government until November 26, 1989 when Bob Denard executed President Abdallah and there were nationwide protests and international condemnation of the new mercenaries coup.
An embarrassed FranceÂ forced its agent to step down and French paratroopers flew Denard andÂ Â 25 other mercenaries to South Africa rather than France where there was a clamour that he should be tried.
Given Franceâ€™s long history of subverting the African peoplesâ€™ will and undermining our democratic and socio-economic development, it is not surprising that it is propping up the Mauritanian coup plotters and holding them up as democrats.
ECOWAS has taken some commendable steps on Niger and Guinea, it needs to take firm actions against the Mauritanian rulers.
The African Union should also maintain a policy of not doing business with coup plotters and beneficiaries of the undemocratic seizure of power. We should make it clear to France and its allies that Africa will no longer allow meddlesomeness in its internal politics or the propping up of rogue regimes