Jean Marie Michel Mokoko: born on the 19th of March 1947, he is the only son of his mother who is now, 86. Jean Marie Michel Mokoko was the chief of army staff under president Pascal Lissouba. But he was also amongst the 70 soldiers and Policemen who were, to use the expression of president Denis Sassou Nguesso in his book: le Manguier, le Fleuve et la Souris, edition JC Lattés, published in 1997, excluded from the national Army, because of their alleged proximity to him (Denis Sassou Nguesso). Jean Marie Michel Mokoko is one of the best trained and principled Congolese Army officers. He is a graduate of the prestigious French war college: Ecole Speciale Militaire of Saint Cyr. His school mates at Saint Cyr were: the Senegalese, Babacar Gueye, the former Ivorian Joint Chief of staff, Mathias Doue and the late Ilunga Shamanga of the DRC. Jean Marie Michel Mokoko is a republican soldier. Hence he respects the rule of law and democracy. Jean Marie Michel Mokoko is not a power hungry man, for he had two opportunities to takeover political power: 1992 and 1997, but he declined and opted for peace and democratic leadership. He is very popular in Congo for having according to many Congolese, guaranteed the holding of Congo’s sovereign national conference and also guiding the transition from Marxist rule to democracy to a successful conclusion.
It is claimed that, because he held to strict neutrality of the Army, Congo was able to organize its first post independent free and fair elections that also paved the way for the country to elect its first post independent democratically elected president, Professor Pascal Lissouba in 1992. But Jean Marie Michel Mokoko is not loved by all. Within the camp of former President Pascal Lissouba, he is presented as traitor and tribal oriented person, who sided with Denis Sassou Nguesso to destabilize his former boss, Pascal Lissouba. That partly explains the reason why, he is hated by Pascal Tsaty Mabiala, who was the last minister of defense of Pascal Lissouba and today, secretary general of the former ruling party, UPADS. But General Emmanuel Ngouelondele, who also worked with Pascal Lissouba, rejects those accusations leveled against General Mokoko. He says that, Mokoko is a respected and responsible officer who like him was disappointed by the desire of former President Lissouba to use militia forces instead of regular army during the civil war. However, Christophe Moukoueke, one of the major figures in Lissouba’s government says in defense of Lissouba, that, if the former President opted to use militia forces instead of the regular army, it was because, the Army full Sassou Nguesso loyalists , in chief General Mokoko, were not ready to fight. General Emmanuel Ngouelondele rejects with energy and passion the allegations of Christophe Moukoueke and he claims that, Pascal Lissouba was a good man, but taken hostage by people such as Christophe Moukoueke who had put him at the head of UPADS party. If within some sections of the former regime, there are some people who don’t hold Mokoko with any admiration or less esteem; it is the same thing with the current ruling class.
According to some people close to President Denis Sassou Nguesso, he is not happy and has grudges against Mokoko, for having compelled him (Sassou Nguesso) to organize the sovereign national council, which contributed in him losing power. This simply backs up the claims of people who say that, Sassou Nguesso had never wanted to abandon political power in 1992 to Pascal Lissouba. While they hate Mokoko, they also think, Mokoko is weak, because Mokoko had the opportunity twice, to rule the country, but he refused. He is derisively known within the Presidential circle as the “frightful General” or in French, General Peureux and code named: GP. The problem with Denis Sassou Nguesso and his innermost circle, who are a people without any moral values, are that, they confuse fear and respect for institutions with being weak. For them, anybody who is honest, hardworking with a bit of morality, is either an idiot or a fearful person. Since Denis Sassou Nguesso and most of his inner circle are people who are corrupt and doubled with the fact that, they are depraved, unscrupulous and thus, ready to kill just to stay in power and keep their privileges, they think everyone is like them.
I met Jean Marie Michel Mokoko, for the first time in Bangui at the Ledger Hotel. That was in February 2014. I discovered on that day that, he was every inch a principled soldier. He spoke very little and took his time as if he chooses every word, before responding to my questions. He had the composure of an educated army officer and also a person who doesn’t shilly-shally when he has taken a decision. At keen observation, I sense that, he must not only be strict with himself, he was also much more disciplined, than most of his Congolese colleagues that I have met before. As a soldier, he respects the constitution and thinks that, the army can only intervene into national political life, only when elected civilians are not willing to walk by the rule of law. I also noticed in his hotel room that, he was not only an organized person, but very neat. Although he told me nothing special about Congo or whether he had any special ambitions, politically, I noticed, nonetheless, that, he loves people, especially those who are bold and also those who do their job well.
** This article was first written in February 2014 in Bangui.