Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Jean Itadi: profile of a Peace-maker

Jean Itadi: he was the former minister of Energy under the government of Pascal Lissouba and also a former member of UPADS, the former ruling party. I have once interviewed this admirer of the late former South African president, Nelson Mandela. And I discovered during our interview that, he is a man, he who not only masters his subject, he also has a keen knowledge of the political situation and social engineering of the country. Furthermore, I also noticed during our interview that, he an easy going intelligent man who seems to habour no rancor against the current regime. His only preoccupation is real reconciliation and forgiveness. Both in his opinion are perquisites for long-lasting peace, stability and economic growth, which the country needs, if she wants to succeed in its fights against poverty and youth unemployment. While he wants his friends to forgive those who overthrew them from power in 1997, he also thinks that, the over hyped reconciliation virtue of the current rulers, is in reality cosmetic. In the opinion of Jean Itadi, real peace and real reconciliation can only be achieved when all those who went to exile in 1997, are allowed to return without any preconditions and properties seized from members of the former regime are returned. Unlike other ministers in the overthrown regime, such as Victor Tamba-Tamba or Christophe Moukoueke, Jean Itadi is relatively young.

He was born on the 24th March 1949 and he still seems to have a political future in Congo, even under President Denis Sassou Nguesso. For president Denis Sassou Nguesso might need his presence and experience in his plan to “renew” the political class, in case he succeeds to change the constitution. But what is still doubtful, is whether by using a member of the former regime whose credibility and popularity is yet to be tested, will be an excellent political calculation for Denis Sassou Nguesso. However since Jean Itadi came back from exile in South Africa, he has been living in a hotel located near the Brazzaville international airport. His stay there is not because he is afraid to stay in town proper or it is his desire to be close to the airport, which might be an easy escape route, in case of attack. He lives at the Hotel de l’aeroport or Airport Hotel, simply because, all his properties were confiscated by the new regime of Denis Sassou in 1997. Some people claim that, he is the owner of the said hotel where he has been residing since he came back from exile. But, I have not had the chance to ask him whether he was the owner or whether, he was just a client. His prolonged stay in a rented hotel suit is not a sign of his opulence, but a stack remindal, reconciliation is not complete some 17 years after the violent overthrow of Pascal Lissouba. His proximity with Maurice Nguesso, the elder brother of Denis Sassou Nguesso has not facilitated the return of his properties seized when they were defeated.

Politically, he is close to Mathias Dzon and Clement Mierassa. But he has not been able to make any major impact within UPADS, the former ruling party, which is now controlled by Pascal Tsaty Mabiala. Perhaps he never wanted to spark another rift within the former ruling party or he was aware that, a fight for its leadership, would be a lost struggle, hence he decided to create a new political formation. His new political party is called Congres Africain Pour le Progres or in English, African Congress for Progress, abbreviated in French as CAP. He is not alone in the new formation. The other major names are Victor Tamba-Tamba and Christophe Moukoueke. In my opinion, the fact that, he has been able to attract two heavy weights of the former regime shows that, he still has some political capital. It is also a sign that, he wants to be independent from any pressure from his former friends. But the question that begs to be asked are these: will his new political party have any impact?

Does he have the financial strength to sponsor a new political party? And finally, while he might still have some ounce of credibility, is his association with controversial figures such as Victor Tamba-Tamba and Christophe Moukoueke not ruin the ambition of his party and also destroy his political capital? Until he or any other specialist of the Congolese political scene can give clear answers to the latter mentioned questions, only then could honest assessments of the full potentials of CAP be made. Associating with Mathias Dzon and Clement Mierassa is good, but it is not enough to give or tell where they stand ideologically. His future will be judged by or according the positions that he will take on controversial issues and how he will perform in any eventual elections, in particular, local and legislative elections. Jean Itadi is married and a father of several children. He is also a graduate of the Universities of Algiers and Marien Ngouabi of Brazzaville. 

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