France has long trumpeted its close ties to Africa. French troops have not hesitated to jump in to support a favored despot. It appears that the favors went both ways. Robert Bourgi, a longtime adviser on African affairs for France, has declared that he delivered large sums of money from African leaders to top French officials, including former President Jacques Chirac and potential presidential candidate Dominique de Vilpin.
The officials — and the African countries implicated — have all denied it, of course. But as our sister site Slate.fr (in French) described it, Bourgi's accusations are a "fragmentation bomb" just seven months before presidential elections.
Among the African officials alleged to have paid cash to the French presidency is Karim Wade — the son of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade — who denied the accusations and vowed to sue Bourgi for defamation."I vehemently deny these astonishing claims, which are nothing but a figment of his imagination," the president's son said in a statement issued late Monday.
Karim Wade added that he had asked his lawyers to immediately lodge a complaint with the competent courts for slander and defamation. Bourgi said in an interview to the Senegalese daily L'Observateur published on Monday that Karim Wade had "handed over 500 million CFA francs (760,000 euros, one million dollars) to Villepin in front of me." Villepin was then president Jacques Chirac's top aide.
Among the string of African leaders alleged by Bourgi to have come to Villepin's office with cash-stuffed briefcases is Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso.
These charges will remind French voters that their election process is far from transparent. For the rest of us, it's notable that aid from Africa is a category we don't often think about.
Read the entire AFP article here.
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