« Malinas the Emperor » and other problematic ideas of the French ex- ambassador to the Central African Republic

By Grégoire Cyrille Dongobada

After the publication of his book, which recounts France’s years in the Central African Republic between 2013 and 2016, French then-ambassador to the Central African Republic, Charles Malinas, gave an exclusive interview to the French newspaper RFI, which also considers that the failed Operation Sangaris should be extended. The ideas promoted by the former ambassador are quite problematic and even offensive to the people of the Central African Republic, who had suffered a great deal under the French rule even after gaining their independence.

Indeed, if we go back a little in time in the middle of the Central African crisis, and analyze the historical facts of this period between 2013 and 2016, we can conclude that France has never been a neutral country in the Central African Republic, as the former French ambassador claims. Propelling the neocolonial rule, Paris and its proxies defended nothing but their interests in this the CAR. Taking former president Francois Bozizé as example, it can be easily seen how Paris used to put in power their favorites and then take them off in a whim.  Bozizé worked up his way to presidential office through a military coup supported by France, and lost power during another military tension under the shadow of Paris.

Charles Malinas claims that Franch military invasion under the name of operation Sanagris was  a good initiative that contributed to peacebuilding in the Central African Republic. The local population would disagree completely.

The French military force was followed by many high-profile scandals after the accusations against a number of its soldiers of being involved in crimes against civil population, including cases of rape of minors. Back then French President Francois Hollande entered the line by declaring that he will be strict and that he will take the maximum penalties against those involved in this scandal, and Charles Malinas insists that the well-being of Central Africans was always in the mind of then-President of France.

However, after more than 15 years since the crimes were made public, no one has been prosecuted yet and the French press, as well as former President Holland lost interest in the subject.

Another objectionable claim that the ex-ambassador made in his interview is one on the effectiveness of the operation Sanagris. He says, that the operation helped to stabilize the country which is not true. By the end of the operation armed groups were controlling the most of the territory outside the capital and power of the government was very feeble. Charles Malinas takes the liberty to claim that the UN peacekeeping Mission, that was formed after the end of operation Sanagris, would never be able to achieve anything in the CAR and to be as effective as the French military there. Putting aside the question of MINUSCA’s efficiency, it feels right to stress that such utterance coming from high-profile diplomat is unacceptable, and shows the inappropriate level of arrogance of the French establishment.

While the activists and civil movements in the Central African Republic keep fighting to get the responsible for the crimes punished and the victims to be compensated, high-profile figures in Paris continue to spread outright lies about their presence in the country. The only thing that gives me hope, is the fact that the Central African Republic is not strong and outspoken enough to stand up to the neocolonial harassment of France.