122. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Central African Empire1

150230. Subject: Revised Policy Toward the Central African Empire.

1. Department has completed a review of relations with the Central African Empire taking into account the recent reports of killings of young people and congressional action to prohibit bilateral assistance.2 We have reached consensus on an approach which makes clear our condemnation of the reported killings, both to the CAE and to American public opinion, but which does not unduly risk the safety of Americans in that country.

2. Ambassador Cooke will return to Bangui at least until the aid phase out is completed in October,3 at which time the situation will be again reviewed. As soon as possible after his return, the Ambassador will convey our displeasure and congressional attitudes to Prime Minister Maidou.4 A Washington announcement will be made following that demarche. We will approach other African governments and the French and other Europeans to state our views and seek their opinions.

Depending on the French reaction, consideration might later be given to urging France to cut its budgetary assistance. The recently [Page 323] named African investigating committee will be urged to expedite its activities. CAE applications to the IFI’s will be screened with particular care. We plan to vote against loans which appear to support Bokassa’s regime.

3. Ambassador Cooke will use the following talking points with GOCAE Prime Minister Maidou:

—We have warned the Emperor repeatedly that lack of real improvement in human rights would result in an aid cutoff. Congress has now taken these steps. We regret losing BHN projects, because we wanted to continue to help the people of the CAE. But decision is taken and we will be phasing out our assistance and our people.

—The USG attaches great importance to the visit of the five-nation fact-finding mission to Bangui. The CAE should do everything possible to facilitate and expedite this visit.

USG will be looking very hard at all IFI loans for CAE in coming months, and will perhaps abstain or oppose projects on human rights grounds.

—As for the overall relationship, Cooke will, over the next months, be recommending final U.S. position—again dependent upon real progress in human rights.

4. Following the Ambassador’s demarche: The press spokesman in Washington will announce the elements of the above.

5. For Paris: Following talking points are for your use with GOF. Request that you arrange appointment with George at Political Counselor level for June 18, 19 or 20. Ambassador Cooke will be transiting Paris and will accompany.

—We are concerned about the human rights situation in the CAE.

Bokassa is an embarrassment to moderate African and Western governments.

—Our leverage is limited, but France has the wherewithal to effect change.

—We are interested in knowing what policies France plans to adopt concerning the CAE.

6. For Dakar, Abidjan, Monrovia, Kigali: We note President Houphouet’s assertion that the five power fact-finding team is scheduled to go to Bangui this week. Upon suitable occasion, you should make following points: (Cotonou is not being asked to approach Govt. of Benin).

—The USG is concerned about the human rights situation in the CAE.

—We note President Houphouet-Boigny’s statement that the five power team is going to Bangui this week.

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—We urge that the team conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into Amnesty International charges and spread its report widely.5

—Note that USG is in the process of taking a number of steps concerning its relations with the GOCAE. We had recalled our Ambassador to Washington, but are now sending him back to Bangui to convey the results of our consultations to the GOCAE.

—Following his talks with the GOCAE and the return of your fact-finding team, we will be back in touch to discuss in greater depth our concerns about the CAE.

7. Other addressees: We anticipate providing CAE-related talking points for your use following Ambassador Cooke’s demarche to GOCAE.

8. Ambassador Cooke and daughter Jennifer will depart New York June 17 via TWA flight 800 for Paris arriving June 18, 0830. Please reserve two singles at convenient moderate price hotel. They will continue to Bangui on June 21 via UT 777 arriving at 7:40 p.m.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790265–0460. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information to Paris, Yaounde, Ndjamena, Brazzaville, Dakar, Libreville, Kinshasa, Abidjan, Monrovia, Kigali, and Cotonou. Drafted by Gribben (AF/C); cleared in HA, H, S/P, AF, EUR/WE, AF/C, and AF/W; approved by Newsom.
  2. See Document 119.
  3. In telegram 136468 to Bangui, May 27, the Department announced the recall of Cooke to Washington for consultations on U.S.–CAE relations. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790240–1109)
  4. See footnote 5, Document 124.
  5. The fact-finding mission included jurists from Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Rwanda, and Togo. Their report, issued on August 16 in Dakar, found that Bokassa had ordered and probably took part in the massacre of school children in April. (“Africa Commission Says Bokassa Had Role in Massacre of Children,” New York Times, August 17, 1979, p. A8)