Sunday, May 1, 2016

Colonel Marcel Nstourou: Profile of a disgruntled Army officer

Colonel Marcel Nstourou: he was until his spectacular arrest on the 16th of December 2013, the deputy secretary general of Congo’s National Security Council. He was also, the self proclaimed military governor of the commercial and port city of Point Noire. This was immediately after the brief but violent 1997 civil war, pitting the democratically elected government of Pascal Lissouba against the former militia of Denis Sassou Nguesso, known as the Cobra. I have met Colonel Marcel Nstourou twice. The first time was in the home of Maurice Nguesso on the 4th of March 2012 at about 6pm. He came to confess to the elder brother of the President that, he had no part in the explosions, which took place on the same day at the ammunition depot in Mpila, a neighbourhood located northeast of the capital, Brazzaville. And on that day also, while not nominally accusing his boss, Jean Dominique Okemba, he told Maurice Nguesso to advice his younger brother to be vigilant. Colonel Marcel Nstourou also told Maurice Nguesso that, there was a plot being secretly planned that would one day surprise Denis Sassou Nguesso. By whom, I can’t tell, because when he wanted to start giving names, I left because I did want that, in case there was a leak, I should be accused. However, all I know is that, there are three people who know pretty well those who were behind the March 4th 2012 explosions. They are: Colonel Jean Aive Alakoua, Maurice Nguesso and Amédée Nganga.

The third became acquainted on the matter, when he was hired as the lead lawyer amongst the pool of lawyers hired to defend Colonel Marcel Nstourou after he was framed up arrested. While the second was informed on the above mentioned day after he was visited by Colonel Marcel Nstourou. The second time that I met him was in the company of Guy Milex Mboundzi, Eric Kouamo and Alphonse Ndongo. The first is a journalist and publisher of La Voix du Peuple, a newspaper that is banned from publishing in Congo and the second is the editor in chief of Equinox TV, a Cameroonian privately owned Television station based in Douala and the third is a journalist working with the French language pan African economic oriented magazine: Jeune Afrique Economie and also for the bimonthly newspaper, Terrafrica. This second meeting was in his house located near the Brazzaville military barracks. It is the same home where he was attacked on the 16th of December 2013. On that day, I discovered that Colonel Marcel Nstourou was a brilliant officer, who masters not only Congolese history and politics, but also those of the world, especially French. The contrary would have surprising from the elite of a country who has great respect for France. However, where I was surprised was that, he was also interested in American and British civilian and military political as well as economic history. But I also saw a man who is excessively self confident and proud. Furthermore, he seems to under estimate most of his colleagues, especially Jean Dominique Okemba and Jean Francois Ndenguet. I also saw an ambitious soldier, ready to take risk and also ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

But he was also a deeply disgruntled man who thinks, he was being marginalized by the very President, he had loyally served. He was ready to make Denis Sassou Nguesso pay for his disloyalty and also for his excessive tribal orientation of his regime. Even though Colonel Marcel Nstourou understands that, he is not poplar amongst Congolese, especially those from the south and this, because of the role that he played during the 1997 civil war, he had opted, when I saw him to aton his sins. According to Colonel Marcel Nstourou in his plan to seek atonement from Congolese, he had the support from other high ranking soldiers within the Congolese army.  Speaking with him, I came to the conclusion that, the Congolese national army was a reflection of the country. A keg of gun powder that is ready to explode, because everybody is disappointed after being hoodwinked by Denis Sassou Nguesso. However, the fact that, he resisted or defy his arrest by the combined forces of the Army, Police and Gendarmerie on the 16th of December 2013, has endeared him in the minds of many Congolese, especially those, who fought and died, as well as those who survived, the great brief, nonetheless close to five hours gun battle complete with tanks, in the heart of the city. The sins of Marcel Nstourou were atoned on the 16th of December 2013. Colonel Marcel Nstourou is not only vexed against Denis Sassou Nguesso, but against the entire system erected by his former boss. He is like most Congolese, but his difference between him and other disgruntled officers that populate the Congolese national army is that, he is not a coward or a hypocrite. He is every inch a soldier who is ready to express his opinion and face the consequences or be court martial.  Although he has been demoted and removed from the national and now jailed for his alleged role in the March 4th 2012 explosions at an ammunition depot north of Brazzaville, Marcel Nstourou remains popular. And if history is any guide, he also might become Congo’s own Nelson Mandela or Nigeria’s own Matthew Olusegun Obasanjo. However, if he is not killed in jail, he will certainly have a major role to play in the political scene of Congo.

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