France and the Congo Attempt to Improve their Relationship

France Is Seeking to Improve its Relationship with the Congolese Government

June 07th, 2016

Since the dubious re-election of the Congolese President, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, three months ago, one of the losing candidates, Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko (featured in the picture above), remains locked in his villa in the centre of Brazzaville. The current government refuses to let him leave until he recognises the legitimacy of the new president. Mokoko, however, refused to acknowledge Sassou-Nguesso, even prior to the election, on account of the President changing the constitution in order to be able to stand for re-election once more. It is against this backdrop that France is attempting to improve its relationship with the Congo.

Initially, the modification of the constitution and the re-election of the President Denis Sassou-Nguesso was widely criticised by the international community. France highlighted EU concerns surrounding human rights violations, such as abusive arrests and intimidations, and the United States denounced irregularities in the elections. Consequently, France’s relationship with the Congolese government has been relatively cold. The Congo currently does not have an Ambassador in France. France is eager to improve its relationship with the Congo and is working towards this goal.

France is trying to mitigate the tension between the government and Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko with the French Ambassador in Congo, Jean Pierre Vidon, acting as a mediator between the two sides. The Ambassador has suggested that Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko accept his defeat publicly recognise the legitimacy of President Sassou-Nguesso’s régime. In exchange he would receive improved living conditions and the opportunity to be part of a peaceful opposition. However, Mokoko will not agree to such a deal.

France reportedly is not willing to further assist Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko on account of the improvements in their relationship with the Congolese government. Paris is unwilling to jeopardise this improvement by fighting for the rights of the opposition. At present, signs of improvement in the bilateral relations between the two countries is being witnessed. The French Ambassador in Congo has returned to Brazzaville and the former Congolese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Rodolphe Adada, is set to be appointed Ambassador in Paris.



Cultural Diplomacy News
Pierre Even, CD News