Saturday, February 27, 2016

Andre Okombi Salissa:Profile of a war lord turned Presidential candidate

Andre Okombi Salissa: aka “tout bouge”, is a pure creation of President Denis Sassou Nguesso.  He is a former war lord who headed the dreaded Front 400 militia. The Front 400 was   an autonomous militia group, created by Andre Okombi Salissa, but allegedly financed by Denis Sassou Nguesso, during the 1997, short but brutal civil war. It was in spite all the paintings or claims floated around it, a pure pro- Denis Sassou Nguesso back up militia, for his greater militia group, called the Cobra. In other words, the Cobra was the mother shock terror ship of current President Denis Sassou Nguesso, while the Front 400 was feeder militia boat, captained by Andre Okombi Salissa in the turbulent seas of Congo. But they were well-known to be vicious and specialized in surgical precision attacks on civilians and western diplomatic interest. They are reported to have planned and headed the operation to attack the US embassy in Brazzaville and looted the compound.  It was worth reminding readers that, this was during the 1997 short but violently brutal civil war, that some say was sparked by Denis Sassou Nguesso with the support of Jacques Rene Chirac, former French president. While the accused (Denis Sassou Nguesso) and his supporters claimed that, the civil war was caused by the inability of the only post independent democratically elected president of Congo, Professor Pascal Lissouba, to respect the spirit of the 1992 constitution. The said 1992 constitution is believed to have produced the only electoral democracy and change at the helms of the country.   

Greatest deception

However, the great paradox is that, the current president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, who even wrote an epic book in titled : Le Manguier, le Fleuve et la Souris or in English: The Mango Tress, the River and The Mouse, which had two purposes. The first being to denounce the excesses and abuses of Pascal Lissouba in 1997 and second, presents in a subtle manner to the public, his book/campaign manifesto. Denis Sassou Nguesso is at present, doing the same things that he had deprecated in his book/manifesto.  Some people think that, his book was the greatest deception in Congolese political writings, while others are putting in doubt whether he was the author of the book. However those who are putting in doubt Denis Sassou Nguesso’s authorship of Le Manguier, le Fleuve et la Souris, it may be simply that, they may have not read the book.  For to those doubting, it is beyond comprehension, how a respectable man of the caliber of Denis Sassou Nguesso, could trample over his own writing. But according to Anani Bindji Rabier, a journalist: that book is real Denis Sassou Nguesso. All what he said and wrote was simply because, he wanted power and the French were ready to back him on the condition that, he makes the promise to return to liberal democracy. He concludes: Denis Sassou Nguesso is a typical prototype of what an African chief should be. And he is a man with an extraordinary capacity to dissimulate his true character or feeling and that is a common traits found in most reptiles, in particular the Cobra snake or in some felines, especially the panther.

A political creation of Denis Sassou

It was as though; in 1997, Denis Sassou Nguesso was writing what he will do when he assumes power. And this very troublesome question or observation which often comes up, Andre Okombi Salissa, being a political creation of Denis Sassou and whom by chance has now become an adversary of his mentor.Won’t he do or act in the same manner as Denis Sassou Nguesso?  That is, pretend as though he is for the people and when he gets what he wants and which is power, won’t he return to his true self?  If Denis Sassou Nguesso had the effrontery to write a book full of best intensions, and then trample upon it, what assures the public that, his political son won’t behave like his mentor? To the defense and discharge of Andre Okombi Salissa, Everybody has the right for a second chance and he has even confessed of his sins, albeit in general terms. But other questions that beg to be asked are these: were he not shown the door out of the government, would he have ever joined the opposition? Is he sincere?  Why did he wait too long to apologize? Will his victims accept his apologies? To his discharge, too many crimes have been committed in Congo and those accused have they been prosecuted because there is justice in Congo.  The areas of predilections of Andre Okombi Salissa during the civil war and which also became his fief  in peace time, were the cosmopolitan neighborhoods of Poto-poto and Ouenze. He was assisted in his macabre operations during the civil war by Faustin Elenga. And Mr Elenga is today Member of Parliament for Talangai electoral constituency. This constituency is located in the north of Brazzaville and he is representing the ruling Congolese Workers Party abbreviated in French as PCT.  

Well connected

One thing is true though, in the weak and disorganized Congolese opposition, Andre Okombi Salissa and Mathias Dzon are the only two people with the potentials and capacities to succeed or challenge President Denis Sassou Nguesso, for they are fully well prepared with sound established network of supports in the country and abroad. Therefore, Okombi Salissa is a force to be counted upon in the march toward the respect of the constitution in Congo. As already mentioned, he might become the president of the Republic. What is not known about him is where he stands ideologically. He is currently at the head of a powerful well established political movement that was once aligned to the youth wing of the ruling Congolese Workers Party or the PCT. He is also one of the rare former allies of President Denis Sassou Nguesso who has support all over the country. His secret is simple. When he was government minister from 1997 to 2012, he used his ministerial post to create a network of formidable loyal supporters who got jobs or were integrated into the civil service because of his influence.  Furthermore, he has placed his men and women, all over and in strategic places. The only other member of the Denis Sassou Nguesso galaxy who has used his influence to spread his tentacles all over the government is Jean Dominique Okemba and it also explains the reason why, Andre Okombi Salissa is and was the only One, who could confront without fear the dreaded Jean Dominique Okemba. Mr Okemba is arguably the most influential member of Denis Sassou Nguesso’s innermost circle. He is variously referred to as: Satan the Devil, “very special one” or “vice president” of the Republic.

Formidable capacity of mobilization

In a country where there are little or no jobs outside the civil service, because the private sector is feeble or inexistent, Andre Okombi Salissa has succeeded in building a large pool of fanatical supporters who are a kind of reserved fighting force for him, whenever the need may arise. It also explains the reason why his close aides are presently subject to police harassments. As a pure creation of Denis Sassou Nguesso, he is capable of reenacting identically, what his mentor did to Pascal Lissouba in 1997.His only handicap is that, a section of opposition and people of the Pool region who were victims of the exactions of his militia during the civil war still looks at him with some tinge of suspicions. This is so because, he has not yet openly expressed his opposition to the ruling party and he is still an MP for the Lekana electoral district in the Plateau region under the banner of the ruling PCT party. Nevertheless, he has a formidable capacity of mobilization and therefore, he is a nuisance to the ruling party and the President and his ambition to change the constitution and also get re-elected. He is an asset to the opposition and not a liability at the present dispensation. However, all the suspicions on him seems to have been dropped, since he has now openly decided to stand against the change of the constitution, that will enable President Denis Sassou Nguesso to stand for another third presidential mandate. He has recently shown his determination or opposition credentials by joining hands with established opposition party leaders such as Clement Mierassa, Pascal Tsaty Mabiala, Mathias Dzon, Claudine Munari, Paul-Marie Mpouele and new comer Blanchard Oba.  Andre Okombi Salissa, who studied and unspecified course in the former Soviet Union, is claimed by his detractors, to have studied propaganda and mobilization and upon return, he got plunged into the Congolese civil war and was rewarded with a ministerial post immediately after. He held ministerial appointments for 12 years.  Unlike other Congolese of his age group, he has never known unemployment upon graduation.

Coward or opportunist

The same detractors also claim that, he rebelled against his former friends only after his friend and supporter Isidore Mvouba MP, was not given the post of secretary general of the Congolese Workers Party at the 2011 extraordinary congress, that saw the appointment of Pierre Ngolo MP as secretary general.  And according  to Arlette Soudan Nonault, former special adviser to Pierre Ngolo, Andre Okombi Salissa is not only a political coward, he is not logical. If he were bold and logical, he would have quit his post as MP for Lekana and also resigned from the ruling party. However, Okombi Salissa who is taciturn and speaks most often via his communications adviser, Augustine Kallakalla, replies that: there is time for everything. He adds that: he has nothing against President Denis Sassou Nguesso but against his misrule and the tribalism that he has established in the country. As already mentioned above, Okombi is the only person who can stand and challenge Jean Dominique Okemba, the dreaded and most influential man in Denis Sassou Nguesso’s government. And the fact that, he has now taken a bold stand against the change of the constitution, it is certain that, Congo might plunge into another civil war, should Denis Sassou Nguesso maintains his controversial plans to change the constitution and also if General Jean Francois Ndenguet, who acts now more as the head of a militia than the head of a republican Police, tries to forcefully arrest him.

Another Colonel Marcel Nstourou

For  it is reported by well informed sources who do not want to be named that, Andre Okombi Salissa, still has his  armed militia. They are not only based in Brazzaville, but are spread around the country and they will be ready to confront the Congolese Police, which has been transformed into the Pierre Nkurunziza style Police: tribal and violent. Furthermore, since André Okombi  is an ethnic Bateke, a tribe that  seems to have now been ostracized by the current predominantly ethnic Mbouchi  regime,  his(Andre Okombi Salissa) tribal kith and kin who are present  in 8 of Congo’s 12 administrative  divisions or departments, won’t allow one of theirs to become another or second Colonel Marcel Nstourou. Therefore, in the current presidential contest, the most dreaded challenger to the current regime is not the new kid on the block, General Jean Marie Michel Mokoko, but Andre Okombi Salissa. The man to watch in this presidential election of March 20th 2016 and after, is Andre Okombi Salissa, for he has the money, the capacity to wedge civil and armed warfare and he has the network around the country that, the ragtag regroupings of Mokoko doesn’t have in spite all the euphoria being made around him. 

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