Saturday, April 23, 2016

Jean Marie Tassoua aka General Giap: profile of a former militia leader

Jean Marie Tassoua aka General Giap: He is the former minister of Energy and Hydraulics. He held that function from 1997-2002 and currently, pending his replacement, he is the chair of the Economic and Social Council of Congo. Jean Marie Tassoua is amongst the first supporters of President Denis Sassou Nguesso, when he decided to launch his rebellion against the democratically elected government of Professor Pascal Lissouba. The reason advanced by Denis Sassou Nguesso for having rebelled against the Congolese government was that, President Pascal Lissouba was violating or was not respecting the constitution of the country. Paradoxically, it is the very same sin that Denis Sassou Nguesso is trying to commit today. And during the 1997 civil war, it was in Jean Marie Tassoua’s, house that, Denis Sassou Nguesso was spending his nights in order to evade arrest from government forces. Besides his house serving as hideout to former warlord Denis Sassou Nguesso, that same house or home of Jean Marie Tassoua also became the headquarters of the Cobra militia. And during the 1997 civil war, jean Marie Tassoua became one of the Cobra militia leaders along with late General Blaise Adoua. The commandant of the Cobra militia was Denis Sassou Nguesso.  And it was after the ferocious battle to capture a mountainous neighborhoods north of Brazzaville, called Cite des 17, that Jean Marie Tassoua was nicknamed by Denis Sassou Nguesso as General Giap.

This was because, the Cobra militia that where under the command of Jean Marie Tassoua had very little weaponry, men and more, they demonstrated an exceptional gallantry. For the Cobra militia under Jean Marie Tassoua fought and defeated the national army at the battle of Cite des 17. In that battle, the national army was backed by the Cocoye militia.  The Cocoye and the Aubervillois were two militia groups created by President Pascal Lissouba, who no longer had confidence in the national army. In spite having small and light weaponry, the Cobras under Jean Marie Tassoua got the upper hand, paving the way  for the control of the strategic hills overlooking, Brazzaville, the capital.  As for the real General Diap or Võ Nguyên Giáp, that Tassoua was named after, he was born according to the online dictionary Wikipedia on the 25 August 1911 and died on 4 October 2013. He was a General in the Vietnam People's Army and a politician.

He first grew to prominence during World War II, where he served as the military leader of the VietMinh resistance against the Japanese occupation of Vietnam. Giap was a principal commander in two wars: the Firs Indochina War (1946–54) and the Vietnam War (1960–75). He participated in the following historically significant battles: Lạng Sơn (1950), Hòa Bình (1951–52),Điện Biên Phủ (1954), the Tết Offensive (1968), the Easter Offensive (1972), and the final Ho Chi Min Campaign (1975). Although Jean Marie Tassoua is a loyalist of the President, he is a disappointed man. He once told me in his office that, the president has allowed himself to be taken hostage by his children and family members at the expense of his true friends. He is convinced that President Denis Sassou Nguesso will end up sooner or later like Marien Ngouabi. That is, assassinated by his family members. On the  issue or the debate on constitutional change, which might prolong the presidency of Denis Sassou Nguesso, like many  friends or former friends of the president, he says, they will support the president on condition that, he opts to work with those who had helped him to come to power in 1997. Jean Marie Tassoua is being accused by people of the southern parts of the city of Brazzaville and the Pool region of having ordered his Cobra militia to ransack and pillage the regions after the 1997 civil war.

While admitting that, the Cobra militia committed some atrocities or pillaged the aforementioned region, he says that, he was not the head of the Cobra militia. The head of the Cobra militia is the current president. He concludes: all I know is that, I was given instruction to allow the Cobra militia to loot the conquered regions for two weeks. But it went beyond the agreed period and some atrocities were committed besides looting. However, that was the only way that we could pay the Cobra militias, for we had no money. We were at war. Jean Marie Tassoua is different from most Congolese elite that I have met in one thing. He is not only hard working and well read. He also comes to work very early. That is, precisely at 6 am every weekdays. He is also unique in that, he doesn’t have a triple personality as most other elite. He is candid albeit sometimes sharp tongue and tempestuous. Therefore, he is a person who could in spite his age, play a grand role in the stability of the country and also influencing the President not to tinker with the constitution, for he also has the capacity to raise a militia that might pose problems to the stability in the country. That is, if he wants to. But, I am not sure he still has such desires. For all his military successes during the 1997 civil war, Jean Marie Tassoua, I must point out is a civilian and an economist by profession.

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