The arrest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn fuels discussion around Africa. The head of the IMF is charged with the attempted rape of a Guinea-born hotel maid in America. Emotions in Africa run between disappointment and sympathy.
By Yaya Boudani, Bineta Diagne & Anne-Mireille Nzouankeu
For some Burkinabe, there is no rational explanation to justify Strauss-Kahn’s act. “If this would happen here, people would think that he is bewitched. I am dejected and disappointed. Even though he has a soft spot for women, he could have controlled himself”, says Tanoh Karim, an electronics engineer.
Journalist Boubié Richard says: “Dominque is a repeating offender and he will suffer the consequences of his actions. There was no set up. Because it is an African woman and a lot of African politicians get away with anything, he thought he would too. We are waiting for the conclusions of the investigation”.
'Opening his zipper'
“I’m convinced that Dominique Strauss-Kahn was set up, because a man in his right mind can’t do such a thing. Plus, he doesn’t need to resort to rape. He is wealthy and can have any woman he wants”, shouts Yacouba Tierno, a journalist, during a discussion with friends.
“I am intrigued by this case. It doesn’t add up, it looks more like an elaborate set up”, agrees Barro Mohamed, a trainee lawyer.
The independent daily L’Observateur Paalga commented that “the case is also political, and in politics anything goes. Dominique Strauss-Kahn does not only have supporters within the left. But it is feared that by opening his zipper, Mr Strauss-Kahn might have closed the doors of the Elysée on himself”.
Senegalese think it's a plot
In a small shop in a popular Dakar neighbourhood, the Strauss-Kahn case also fuels a debate. There are fears of a “relentless assault” on the IMF chief, and that the case could “tarnish his image”. “It’s a set up”, thinks the Guinean shop owner. “This man has always been ahead in opinion polls while incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy is losing ground just one year before the elections. It must be a blow from the right”, he reasons.
A student in the shop admits that he was “shocked” by the images of Strauss-Kahn in handcuffs. “It’s in the spirit of undermining his character. They are trying to tarnish his image. He is a great French politician. There is no concrete evidence against him”, he says. His opinion is shared by an official from a private marketing school in Dakar. He says to be “concerned” because the head of the IMF “is a prospective candidate for the 2012 presidential elections in France”. On the other hand, “it’s the third time he is charged with rape, although he was never convicted.”
Cameroonians see a political assasination
Many Cameroonians believe the case to be a conspiracy too. Jean Tagne, a journalist, shares this view: “It looks like they used his strong interest in women to get to him. It definitely looks like a conspiracy.”
Simon Evindi, a civil society activist, believes that Dominique Strauss-Kahn could have had a sexual relation with the cleaner without having to resort to rape. “They exploited his weakness to politically assassinate him. Considering the potential beneficiaries of the situation, the conspiracy hypothesis is hard to dismiss”, he says.
Dominique Stauss-Kahn is popular among Cameroonians since he is viewed as being the voice of Africa on the international scene. His prospective candidacy for the French presidential elections in 2012 is welcomed in Cameroon, especially since France is the country’s main economic partner.
Simon Evindi: “In politics everything serves a purpose. Whatever the outcome of the trial, Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s political career will never be the same again.”