Former African Union Ambassador to the US Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao says she was was not surprised by her recent dismissal as the permanent representative of the African Union in the United States of America. Speaking during an exclusive interview with the US based #RolandMartin Daily Digital show last week Dr Chihombori-Quao said she received a warning of her impending dismissal five months before she was officially notified by the current AU Commission Chairperson, His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, in October.
Chihombori said while there is evidence which suggest that her contract was terminated because of her views on France’s relationship with its former colonies in Africa, she is not at liberty to divulge the details.
When the show’s host Roland Martin asked if she believed France was trying to silence her, Chihombori-Quao relented. “Let me put it this way… maybe I lasted longer than I should have based on my views on France. It’s not even my view, it’s basically stating the facts in terms of what France is doing to Africa-what they are currently doing and have been doing for decades in Africa.”
Chihombori-Quao further explained that France continues to exert significant control over all 14 of its former colonies in West Africa. A form of “slavery” reinforced in the 1960’s when France forced its colonies to sign a document called the Pact for the Continuation of Colonisation, aimed at giving the new nations political independence while remitting economic control to France.
Back then, she said, Franco-phone countries were expected to deposit 85% of their bank reserves with the French Central bank under the control of the French minister of finance. And should those countries wish to request some of those monies, they would have to submit a financial statement for the country. If approved, they could only have access of up to 20% of the money they had deposited the previous year as a loan, set at commercial interest rates.
The only difference now, she said, is that the bank deposits have been reduced to between 50 and 60%. But Francophone countries are still compelled to deposit their bank reserves with France.
Collectively, the 14 countries give France over 500 Billion dollars in hard cash a year which is then invested in the French stock market. According to Chihombori-Quao for every 14 Million taken out of Africa, France makes up to 300 billion in profits after investing it in the French stock market.
“What really gets me the most,” she said, “is how does the world sit back and watch this carnage take place in Africa. Where is the United Nations? This is the body that is supposed to be looking out for any violations of human rights. It is my humble opinion that singularly, what France is doing to Africa is the biggest violation of human rights.
Women and children are dying of starvation; including youth unemployment while the same countries are giving over 500 billion dollars to France. It’s unacceptable, it is wrong, and we are simply asking France to to what is right, what is just and what is fair with the Africans.”
Chihombori-Quao became famous earlier this year when she demanded that former colonial powers, like France, return artefacts of 14 African countries that they have held since the 1960s. She was subsequently dismissed from her job as AU Ambassador to the US in October 2019. Following her dismissal, petitions were posted online demanding her reinstatement. However the AU says her contract termination was procedural and within its rights.
For her part, Chihombori-Quao said she will continue with the movement, encouraging and mobilising all people of African descent to think of Africa as their home. But her first priority is to, “make sure that France abolishes the pact for the continuation of colonisation; we the poor Africa countries can no longer continue to give billions of dollars to France that has got to stop, and if it is the last thing I do before until I die, I will stay on it until it’s done” she said.
In the same week eight West African countries announced that they will to take back control of their currencies. Benin Republic’s President Patrice Talon said, “we now unanimously agree that this model needs to end. The Central Bank of the West African Monetary Union will manage all of the currency reserves and will dispatch them to the different partner central banks across the world.”