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France said it would watch Mugabe

France said that although it welcomed the inclusive government it would remain vigilant for any signs of backsliding or recalcitrance on the part of President Robert Mugabe.

It said that while the formation of the inclusive government was encouraging, this was a fresh development.

France and the European Union would monitor the situation very carefully and would carry out policy changes if, and only if, there were meaningful developments on the ground.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09PARIS303, MADAGASCAR/COMOROS/ZIMBABWE: FRANCE TAKING

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09PARIS303

2009-03-02 15:30

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Paris

VZCZCXRO6954

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHFR #0303/01 0611530

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 021530Z MAR 09

FM AMEMBASSY PARIS

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5657

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0823

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1677

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 2531

RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 000303

 

SIPDIS

 

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/2/2019

TAGS: PREL PINS PHUM MA CN ZI FR

SUBJECT: MADAGASCAR/COMOROS/ZIMBABWE: FRANCE TAKING

LOW-PROFILE POSITIONS

 

Classified By: Deputy Political Counselor William Jordan, 1.4 (b/d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: MFA AF DAS-equivalent Francois Barateau on

February 27 said that France was taking a low-profile with

respect to Madagascar, Comoros, and Zimbabwe. On Madagascar,

the French are supporting the UN and the international

community’s efforts to promote dialogue between President

Ravalomanana and former Antananarivo Mayor Rajoelina, but

have cut back on public statements and believe that

Ravalomanana must address his critics’ concerns as part of

any reconciliation process. The French are concerned that

President Sambi’s efforts to change the Comoran constitution

and prolong his mandate are potentially destabilizing. The

GOF is refraining from speaking directly to Sambi because of

Comoran sensitivities about France’s intruding into Comoran

affairs. The French are consulting with others in the region

and asking that they express shared concerns to Comoran

authorities. Barateau said that France and EU partners were

relieved and encouraged by the formation of a government in

Zimbabwe but would watch attentively for actual changes on

the ground before carrying out any policy changes. END

SUMMARY.

 

Madagascar

 

2. (C) MFA AF/S DAS-equivalent Francois Barateau on

February 27 briefed on Madagascar, Comoros, and Zimbabwe.

Barateau had spent several days in Madagascar when the

current crisis arose. He said that the situation there was a

complete tragedy, resulting largely from the personal

animosity and rivalry between President Ravalomanana and

former Antananarivo Mayor Rajoelina, two politicians from the

same business and social milieu whose profiles were quite

similar. Barateau said that he was dismayed when

Ravalomanana failed to continue his talks with Rajoelina

earlier in the week. This did not bode well given the

optimism that had arisen when the two decided to hold

face-to-face talks. Barateau said that he was not sure if

the situation would take a turn for the worse, but he found

no comfort in the ending of the talks.

 

3. (C) Barateau said that France was trying to maintain a

low-profile in Madagascar, in part because of the way that

both sides tried to exploit phone calls FM Kouchner had made

to Ravalomanana and Rajoelina when the crisis first erupted;

both had tried to claim that Kouchner (and France) supported

one camp over the other. Moreover, Barateau explained, given

France’s significant and historical presence in Madagascar,

anything France said or did, especially in times of crisis,

tended to be given more weight than it deserved. Barateau

indicated that France would try to stay out of the public

debate in order not to distract from the need to get the two

sides to resolve their differences, although he said the MFA

would issue a communique from time to time if events

warranted a French comment and if such a comment would help

move things in the right direction.

 

4. (C) Barateau said that France was fully supportive of UN

efforts to facilitate a resolution of Madagascar’s crisis,

including UNSYG Ban Ki-Moon’s efforts along with those of

A/UNSYG Menkerios and former Mali FM Tiebile Drame, the UN’s

new Senior Mediator. France’s priority remained an

agreed-upon political resolution acceptable to both sides.

Barateau stressed, however, that President Ravalomanana, a

flawed president, needed to recognize and address his

critics’ concerns as a part of any such political

reconciliation. “In order to really settle this, we think

Ravalomanana needs to make concessions to his critics, who

have rightfully pointed out his mistakes. He cannot simply

expect that everything will go back to the way things were

before the crisis,” Barateau remarked.

 

Comoros

 

5. (C) France was concerned about Comoran President Sambi’s

attempts to revise the constitution and to add one-year to

his four-year mandate, Barateau said. These were potentially

destabilizing developments that risked upsetting the fragile

balance on which the Union of the Comoros depended. Barateau

noted signs that the residents of Moheli might not

participate in the referendum on Sambi’s initiatives, an

early indication that Sambi’s plan could lead to trouble.

 

6. (C) Barateau said that France was trying to play a

low-key role in the Comoros with respect to Sambi. He said

that even more so than the Malagasy, Comorans were acutely

 

PARIS 00000303 002 OF 002

 

 

sensitive to any French “involvement” in Comoran affairs and

that sometimes it was best to keep quiet. However, Barateau

said that France was consulting with Comoros’s neighbors and

sharing French concerns about Sambi’s plans with them, and

asking the neighbors to convey whatever concerns they might

have to the Comoran leadership.

 

7. (C) Barateau quickly added that the present time was a

very sensitive moment for France and Comoros, given the March

29 vote in Mayotte on whether Mayotte would become a

full-fledged French Overseas Department, a step up from its

status as a “Departmental Collectivity.” Barateau was very

direct in saying there should be no ambiguity about this

vote: “Everyone there is French. It’s just a question of

what administrative label we put on the island.” He had no

doubt that Mayotte would vote for full Overseas Department

status. Barateau conceded that the Mayotte vote was likely

fueling ever-present Comoran suspicions about France’s role

in the islands and the alleged French desire to exert undue

influence over the Union via its presence in Mayotte, which

would likely now be strengthened.

 

Zimbabwe

 

8. (C) In a brief discussion of Zimbabwe, Barateau said

that France and its EU partners were relieved that at last a

government had been formed in Harare that included Morgan

Tsvangirai and others opposition figures. However, while

encouraging, this was a very fresh development; France and

the EU would monitor the situation very carefully and would

carry out any policy changes towards Zimbabwe (i.e., in a

warming direction) if and only if there were meaningful

developments on the ground. In the meantime the GOF and

other EU members would remain vigilant for any signs of

backsliding or recalcitrance on Mugabe’s part.

 

 

PEKALA

 

(3 VIEWS)

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