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Wikileaks: The mysteries of the bombing of the French camp in Bouake in Cote d’Ivoire
| 09.12.10 | 10:33 p.m. • Updated 10.12.10 | 8:21
ABIDJAN, SPECIAL ENVOY – The peak of the tension between France and Côte d’Ivoire has probably been reached in November 2004. While the country was divided between the south, controlled by Laurent Gbagbo , and the North, in the hands of the rebel New Forces, “Operation Dignity” [was launched by Gbagbo’s forces to] allow the loyalist troops to regain control of the whole territory [from] the rebels New Forces. The offensive began with attacks by the Ivorian air force against rebel cities with the acquisition of helicopter gunships and fighter jets, bought by the Ivory Coast despite a UN embargo.
The operation “Dignity” has turned into a disaster, Nov. 6, when two of the Sukhoi, piloted by Belarusians (with co-drivers Ivorian) attacked a camp of French soldiers (installed at the Lycee Descartes Bouake ) force Unicorn, deployed to keep a “zone of confidence” between South and North.
Nine French soldiers and an American civilian refugee in the camp to protect themselves from air attacks had been killed. French soldiers had then destroyed the Ivorian air force, sparking riots in Abidjan — massive anti-French, leading to more than 8,000 evacuations. In the chaos, the French army had opened fire several times on hostile crowds. This issue remains a major dispute between the two countries.
Gold Sukhoi pilots involved in the attack on the French camp, arrested in Abidjan, were detained four days by the French army before being allowed to leave the Ivory Coast and [go to ]Togo. There, the government arrested them before proposing the French to question them.
A little over a year later, the former interior minister of Togo, Francois Boko , is received “at his request” in a U.S. embassy to tell them the passage of the drivers (pilots] in his country, in which case he had any authority at the time. He then confirms [to] the U.S. diplomats “the six pilots and engineers” involved in the management and maintenance of Sukhoi [aircraft] have been held in Lome.
Previously, the fighters [aircraft] were also [allowed to] pass [through Togo to Ivory Coast]
Togo and Côte d’Ivoire had imported material, in violation of UN arms embargo: “The two Sukhoi 25 used in the bombing were provided to the ICG [Government of Côte d’Ivoire] by the former French policeman Robert Montoya . [It] was procured, and other aircraft and other equipment,[from] Belarus. He had also hired pilots and technicians [from] Belarus. The planes came [as] spare parts in Togo, where they were assembled before flying to the Ivory Coast. ”
Francois Boko insists: “The Togolese officials were informed of the presence of aircraft and pilots, [as well as] technicians in Togo. (…) The French forces also should be aware of their presence since the planes were parked in the Belarusian part of the airport Lomé used by the French for their own air missions in support of French troops in Ivory Coast. ”
More strange is the refusal of French authorities to interview the pilots, like Francois Boko on their offers after they have “communicated their identities and activities through the Embassy of France in Lome, but also through the General Poncet, who then commanded Operation Licorne in Côte d’Ivoire. ”
THE CASE OF ROBERT MONTOYA EVOKED
[[The] Former Togolese interior minister then expressed his surprise: “After having kept the nine Belarusians about two weeks, Boko is asked by the French (including General Poncet, who communicated directly with Boko) [to] release [them]. The only explanation he has provided (again, including that of General Poncet), was that France ‘does not seek to complicate its relations with Belarus ” , concludes the author of the telegram.
Francois Boko continuing on the case of Robert Montoya, a former member of the terrorist cell in the Elysee, compromised in the 1980s in a case of wiretapping, and installed between Togo and other countries. Mr. Montoya then advised the Ivorian presidency.
Francois Boko said that “since the French press began to write [about his] subject, his wife went to a notary in Togo which (…) has liquidated all [his] company before creating new, with different owners. ” Since then, Robert Montoya was prosecuted but the essential questions about the Franco-Ivorian episode from November 2004 remain.