, pub-7771400403364887, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 The Controversial Relationship Between Jean-Bédel Bokassa and France

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The Controversial Relationship Between Jean-Bédel Bokassa and France

During his time as the Central African Republic's leader, Jean-Bédel Bokassa formed complex relationships with foreign powers, particularly France. This article delves into the intricate ties between Bokassa and France, shedding light on the significant events and controversies that marked their association.

Financial and Military Support:
Bokassa's alliance with France was fortified by financial and military support. In 1975, French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing declared himself a "friend and family member" of Bokassa, and France provided financial assistance and military backing to the Central African Republic. This collaboration served the interests of both parties, as Bokassa supplied France with essential uranium for its nuclear energy and weapons programs during the height of the Cold War era.

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The Imperial Coronation:
The culmination of the close relationship between Bokassa and France was the grand imperial coronation of Bokassa I on December 4, 1977. French Defense Minister contributed significantly to this ceremony by sending a battalion to ensure security, providing seventeen aircraft to support Bokassa's government, and assigning French Navy personnel to assist the orchestra. The extravagant two-day event, organized by French artist Jean-Pierre Dupont, cost a staggering £10 million, surpassing the CAR's annual budget. Bokassa's opulent crown, created by Parisian jeweler Claude Bertrand, symbolized the excesses of his reign, with a two-ton solid gold eagle-shaped throne on which he sat.

The Diamonds Affair:
The Bokassa-Giscard relationship experienced a setback with the exposure of the controversial Diamonds Affair. In 1979, the satirical newspaper Canard Enchaîné reported that Bokassa had gifted Giscard two diamonds in 1973. This scandal contributed significantly to Giscard's electoral defeat in 1981. The Franco-Central African relationship underwent a dramatic shift when France's intelligence service, Renseignements Généraux, discovered Bokassa's willingness to partner with Muammar Gaddafi.

Conversion to Islam and its Consequences:
In September 1976, Bokassa met with Muammar Gaddafi and underwent a controversial conversion to Islam, changing his name to Salah Eddine Ahmed Bokassa. It is widely believed that this conversion was a calculated move to secure ongoing financial aid from Libya. However, Bokassa's decision clashed with his plans to be crowned emperor in the Catholic cathedral in Bangui, causing further complications and controversy.

The relationship between Jean-Bédel Bokassa and France was characterized by a mixture of support, extravagance, and controversy. While France initially aided Bokassa with financial and military assistance, their alliance faced challenges when Bokassa's ties with Gaddafi became apparent. The Diamonds Affair added to the strain in their relationship and contributed to Giscard's political defeat. The conversion to Islam further complicated matters, highlighting the complexities of Bokassa's rule and his diplomatic ties.

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