France: In Cahoots With Kidnappers

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[International News]

Eric Breteau, the Chairman of the notorious The Ark of Zoe, that non-governmental organization that dominated the news some six months ago in connection with the kidnapping of alleged orphans from the Darfur region, spilt the beans the other day by claiming that French officials backed their endeavour to surreptitiously extricate 103 orphans from that region last fall and to convey them to France.

A couple of days after receiving the presidential pardon of President Idriss Debi from Chad, Eric Breteau at last has voiced his side of the story. Breteau has opined that advisers to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France as well as officials of the French minister of foreign affairs Bernard Kouchner were not only privy to and aware of their agenda but also gave them the go-ahead and the backing to take orphans from the Darfur region to foster-families in France.

It should be noted that president Debi granted members of The Ark of Zoe, a presidential pardon because France staved off the overthrow of his regime a few weeks ago by deploying an armed force. Breteau alleged that it had been agreed that the former first lady, Cecilia Sarkozy, and the French minister of Justice–Attorney General Rachida Dati, would officially welcome the said children at an airport in Paris.

The whole caboodle was designed to kick up a fuss that would call the attention of the international public opinion to the dreadful plight and emergency that Darfur was going through. “The Ark” contends that its members only wanted to provide those orphans with assistance on the basis of the Geneva Convention on Humanitarian rights.

It later turned out that most of the children were from Chad, and not from Sudan, as it was previously claimed. Moreover, many weren’t even orphans at all. Meanwhile, the Sudanese government recently initiated legal proceedings against The Ark of Zoe. The French minister of Justice had already directed the public prosecutor in Paris to look into the shady dealings of the organization.

But the snag the Sudanese are stumbling across is the France’s principle never to extradite her citizens. The Sudanese claim that 18 of the children were actually from the Sudan. Be that as it may, it’s obvious that French officials were aware of the operation. The fact that Rama Yade, the French assistant minister in charge of Human rights had maintained that the Parisian authorities had endeavoured to dissuade the French adventurers from embarking on that operation, confirms the authorities were privy to the enterprise.

Mr. Breteau intends to sue Ms. Rama Yade for calumny because she called the operation “irresponsible and illegal” when the whole world became aware of it. If they hadn’t backed or at least condoned it, why didn’t the French authorities pre-emptively halt the whole affair?

Rachida Dati, the French minister of Justice has denied over a Parisian radio station that she was aware of the “rescue” mission in advance. She also maintains France will not pay the 6 millions Euros The Ark of Zoe was fined.

But according to an agreement between Chad and France dating back to 1976, France is obligated to make sure that such financial damage, springing from private prosecution is paid.

This whole skulduggery demonstrates the whole hypocrisy of France’s so-called “new African policy” under president Sarkozy. As the saying goes: “What’s bred in the bone comes out in the flesh.”

Mathias Victorien Ntep, who is based in Frankfurt, Germany, covers new from Europe for The Black Star.



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