Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Claudia Sassou Nguesso: Profile of a Congolese rock of Gibralter

They are Jean Dominique Okemba and Jean Jacques Bouya. And between both men, who stands the most or has the greatest chance of succeeding Denis Sassou Nguesso? It is Jean Dominique Okemba. Why? It is simply because; Jean Dominique Okemba is straightforward and crafty. He has money and commands a solid network of loyalists within the security apparatus of the state: Army, Navy, Air force, Police and Customs. He also has connections within the civil society and political parties of the opposition as well as in the majority. The icing on the cake is that, within the government, Jean Dominique Okemba has ministers who are in government because of him. Furthermore, the fact that, he is not highly educated makes others within and without the family, who have presidential ambitions, to look down on him or tend to ignore him and this, to their very own detriment and also their ambitions. The list of Jean Dominique Okemba’s victims is impressive and the most prized of his contemporary victims is Colonel Marcel Nstourou. And within the family, his victims in the internal power struggle are Colonel Hillaire Mokou and Maurice Nguesso and also General Pierre Oba. Jean Dominique Okemba is the most influential member of the ruling family. However, there are others as well.

They are:  Aime Emmanuel Yoka, Maurice Nguesso, Denis-Christel Sassou Nguesso, Wilfried Nguesso, Edgard Nguesso, Claudia Sassou Nguesso, Cendrine Sassou Nguesso, Ninelle Sassou Nguesso and Lydie Hortense Kourissa. However, Claudia Sassou Nguesso who is the special adviser to her father on Communications and media and also Member of Parliament for Talangai constituency is unique in the Nguesso power galaxy. In spite all the schemes and accusations leveled against Claudia Sassou Nguesso, she still stands around her father like the rock of Gibraltar.  Claudia Sassou Nguesso is very influential around her father and also the country. She can make and destroy the careers of people. Alain Akouala Atipault, for minister communications and former minister delegate at the Presidency of the Republic is one of her victims. Alain was a brilliant and fanatical supporter of President Denis Sassou Nguesso. Alain Akouala Atipault is still a supporter of President Denis Sassou Nguesso. However, he is a disappointed man.  The simple fact that he wanted to obey only the father and not the daughter is the cause of his downfall. Hence, he was wittingly thrown out of government.

By contrast, the current minister of Communications, Mr Thierry Moungalla has ascended within the power circle to become what he is today because he is first loyal to Claudia before the president and finally, the state.  The only person in the ruling family who can rival Claudia and also stop her in her ambition is Jean Dominique Okemba. Hence there are frequent clashes between Claudia and Jean Dominique Okemba. While both Claudia Sassou Nguesso and Jean Dominique Okemba command a lot of influence around Denis Sassou Nguesso, the entire family is ganging up against Jean Dominique Okemba. The reason is simple. It is partly because of the influence that Jean Dominique Okemba commands and also the proximity that Jean Dominique Okemba has with their father and uncle of a president. A section of the ruling family is afraid that with the proximity and power that Jean Dominique Okemba has developed on the side of the President, he might be the real successor designate. Their fear is not unfounded. If anyone who has an analytical looks at the way President Denis Sassou Nguesso operates, he seem to have a plan for Jean Dominique Okemba. 

Having said or written the above, the truth is that, President Denis Sassou Nguesso has not designated any successor. The simple fact that, Jean Dominique Okemba is the one who does all special missions and is present in any special matters in Congo or abroad, shows that, the President of the Republic might be preparing the ground work for Okemba to succeed him one day.  However this none official plan of the president is in direct opposition to that of Claudia Sassou Nguesso and other members of the ruling family. This group would want that, in case President Sassou Nguesso leaves power, he should be replaced either by Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso or any other biological son or direct nephew. That is as of now, the low intensity intra family battle that is being fought and that has not been put in the public space.  As for Claudia Ikia Sassou Nguesso, she is formerly Mrs. Lemboumba, the name of her late Gabonese husband. She is besides being an adviser to her father as already mentioned, she a member of parliament for Quartier 68 in Talangai.

Talangai is one of the sprawling populous neighborhoods located north of Brazzaville. She was controversially elected in 2012 after defeating her cousin Rene Serge Blanchard Oba. The truth is that, Rene Serge Blanchard Oba was forced to concede defeat only after he accepted via the mediation of Maurice Nguesso to be paid FCFA 1 billion or $ 6 hundred thousand. In other words, Claudia Sassou Nguesso bought herself into parliament. However, the sum promised to Rene Serge Blanchard Oba for grudgingly conceding defeat was never paid. And it is partly one of the reasons why today, Rene Serge Blanchard Oba has joined the radical wing of the opposition in Congo. Another reason why Rene Serge Blanchard Oba is in the opposition today is because, since he was dismissed as Director General of Congo Telecom, he has not been given any other responsibility or job. In fact, Rene Serge Blanchard Oba whose party abbreviated MSD was sponsored by late Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba is jobless and he also claims that, he is persecuted by other family members such as Michel Ngakala.  To conclude, if Rene Serge Blanchard Oba  was paid FCFA 1 billion that her cousin Claudia promised him for his silence  or he had a good job, he won’t have been a member of the radical opposition.

Claudia Sassou Nguesso is the Communications adviser to her father and is also one of the few children of the president who has undergone and completed university education. But it is not known in which field she really studied or the name of her University. But one thing that attracts me to her is that, she speaks fluent English. She is one of the two Denis Sassou Nguesso children whom, I know who speaks English fluently.  The only problem with Claudia is that, unlike her elder late half elder sister, Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba, (she) Claudia Sassou Nguesso is not loved by Congolese. And the hatred is visceral. I was startled by the hostility directed toward her in one Taxi that I boarded while in Oyo in 2009. When I wanted to say something positive about Claudia Sassou Nguesso, the taxi driver reacted with great anger.  I don’t know whether she had a personal problem with the Taxi driver or not. But what I noticed in Oyo and also in Brazzaville and elsewhere in the country that I went was that, Claudia Sassou Nguesso is hated for no founded reason. She is a source of wild tales and amongst them, one holds that, she is very aggressive.  

Personally, she has never acted wickedly or aggressively on me. But what I suspect as being partly why she is rejected by the people is because her mother comes from neighboring DRC. And in Congo, there is a deep seeded aversion against people from the DRC. The other reason why she is hated is because of power. The fact that, she is very close to her father might have also ignited the flames of hatred in the minds of those who looks or considers her as an obstacle to reach her father. To the defense of Claudia Sassou Nguesso, I think that, if she always puts up an aggressive posture, it is simply as an act of defense, for she is mindful of the hostility and hatred that is directed toward her for founded and unfounded reasons. Claudia Sassou Nguesso might also be aggressive because she thinks that, all those coming or gravitating around her father, especially whites as well as none whites, are not sincere or are interested only in her father’s wealth or money.

But one thing I suspect with her is that, she is too susceptible and sees conspiracy all over. She twice told her father that, I was a CIA spy. This was reported to me first by Maurice Nguesso and secondly by Raymond Zephirin Mboulou, the minister of interior. On this last information, the minister of interior was the one who defended me, when she first wanted me to be expelled from Congo.  The sad thing with her is that, like her father, she doesn’t seem to like independent press.

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