- Central Africa
AngolaGate: France-Angola: Charles Pasqua reveals secrets from the very top
Charles Pasqua is very angry. Sentenced to a one year prison term Tuesday in the Angolagate trial, known as one of the major international political scandals, the former French top cop has called for the lifting of an official secrecy act on arms sale documents. He has also accused former Presidents François Mitterand and Jacques Chirac, as well as former Prime Ministers, Édouard Balladur and Alain Juppé, of condoning the Angola arms sale despite a United Nations embargo. The two former prime ministers have denied the accusations. Jacques Chirac, who was Prime Minister at the time, has not yet reacted.
Charles Pasqua does not intend to go down alone in the Angolagate scandal. Sentenced Tuesday to a one-year prison term for "influence peddling" and "misuse of public assets," the former French Minister of Interior immediately demanded that an official secrecy act on arms sale documents be lifted. He openly accused François Mitterrand, Jacques Chirac, and two former prime ministers Édouard Balladur and Alain Juppé to have been "aware" of the arms sale to Angola during the 90s, despite a UN embargo. He made the revelation in an interview published Thursday in Le Figaro. The lifting of the official secrecy act on documents concerning arms sale "will shake a number of elements in the Republic", threatened Charles Pasqua the day before on French cable television, Canal +.
The former prime ministers in question were quick to deny the allegations. Alain Juppé said Tuesday that he had not "been aware" of the arms sale. Édouard Balladur followed suit saying he had received “no information” on the deal. But "unfortunately for him, a document was presented to the court showing that his chief of staff had sent him a bill," noted Charles Pasqua in his interview with Le Figaro. Former Prime Minister Dominique De Villepin has defended Jacques Chirac, who has so far remained silent. "As far as I am concerned," the former French President knew "nothing" about the arms sale to Angola, De Villepin said on LCI, a French speaking news network.
Angolan authorities and "a French problem"
The Angolan authorities have shied away from commenting on the Angolagate trial. "Our position has been clear from the outset. The trial is a French problem," Norberto dos Santos, spokesman for the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA, ruling party) told Reuters Wednesday. This comes after Angola sent a lawyer to the trial on October 6, 2008 asking for a withdrawal of all legal proceedings, while citing a breach of confidentiality and sovereignty. According to the details from the trial, a 790 million dollar arms deal was made in with the MLPA leader Eduardo Dos Santos, between 1993 and 1998. He was at war with Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA rebel faction at the time.
Apart from his decision to appeal the ruling, Charles Pasqua also claims that he has been set-up. He has consistently called for the lifting of the official secrecy act on arms sales documents. A majority of elected officials Wednesday expressed their support for the idea. The international political Angolagate scandal is yet to yield all its secrets.