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Photo illustration by Aaron Leaf. CC Images via Flickr

"Suitcases of Cash": Sarkozy in Police Custody for Gaddafi Deal

It's the latest piece of a scandal that once again gives us a look into the system of criminal dealings between French and African elites.

Just as he was about to make a triumphant return to the French politics, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been detained by police over questions about 50 million euros ($US 61 million at today's exchange rate) his campaign received in the run-up to his 2007 electoral win.

The money, said to have come from the Libyan regime of then president Muammar Gaddafi, would be a violation of France's campaign financing laws which do not allow funding from foreign government sources. Documents obtained by French investigative website Mediapart in 2012 appear to show approval for the money's disbursement by Libyan authorities.

In typical French style the story involves shadowy middlemen and allegations of suitcases full of cash being delivered by hand. This ongoing scandal is also the latest manifestation of the special relationship between France and the African continent known in the francophone world as françafrique—a type of neocolonial arrangement where French elites and those in France's sphere of influence on the continent engage in mutually beneficial corrupt practices in the pursuit of power and enrichment.

As described by French writer François-Xavier Verschave

Over the course of four decades, hundreds of thousands of euros misappropriated from debt, aid, oil, cocoa… or drained through French importing monopolies, have financed French political-business networks (all of them offshoots of the main neo-Gaullist network), shareholders' dividends, the secret services' major operations and mercenary expeditions.

It's a kind of arrangement backed up in part by French military incursions into the continent. Ironically, Sarkozy was one of the major planners for the 2011 NATO Libyan invasion which helped overthrow and eventually kill Gaddafi—a fact not lost on Gaddafi scion Said Al Islam Gaddafi (who, like Sarkozy, is also itching to get back into politics) who says in a 2011 interview that

"Sarkozy must repay to Libya the money he took for his election campaign. We financed his election campaign and we have all the details and we are ready to publish them. The first thing we ask of this clown Sarkozy is that he repay this money to the Libyan people. We helped him become president so that he would help the Libyan people. but he has disappointed us and very soon we will publish all the details and the documents and banking pay slips".

Shady financing of French elections by African leaders is not unique to Sarkozy by any means. French lawyer Robert Bourgi who served as an adviser to Sarkozy and his predecessor Jacques Chirac claims that between 1995 and 2005 he personally delivered briefcases, duffel bags and even a set of African drums full of cash through underground corridors in the Elysée palace. The sources of the money Bourgi claims were five African heads of states, including the since deposed Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d'Ivoire and Gabon's late Omar Bongo.

Under French law Sarkozy, who was detained this morning, can be held up to 48 hours for questioning.


Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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