“There is hardly any antagonism between communities or ethnic groups or regions. The violence here is largely the result of conflict between leaders whose ambitions know no limit and no decency. These leaders have around them some hard-core followers, armed to the teeth. They have made the entire people of the Congo hostages of their blind ambition. It is not the people, their communities or even their political parties who are driving this confrontation. They are!” – UN Special Envoy Mohammed Sahnoun (E Leonard, UN envoy says Congo leaders consumed by ambition, Reuters, United Nations, 26 September 1997).
Just as the internet is blocked and social media blackout. The Presidential Elections is happening in Congo-Brazzaville. Where the Self-Styled President for Life, General Denis Sassou-Nguesso is running for his fourth term. Not shockingly his anticipated to win and certainly by a landslide.
Though he ran the nation for 12 years between 1980 to 1992. Where he ran it as a one-party state. The General had total control and this is persistent to this day. After he overthrow the elected government again in 1997. Since, then he has never looked back and power. He has held this office for 36 years with the two consecutive terms.
Sassou-Nguesso is the “emperor” who like others are not only planning to run another term as President for 5 years. This means he would be running the nation for most of the time since 1980. The General with his strict discipline and his “nice suits”.
Just like others who rules for life. They are planning for their sons to takeover. The Cobra or the Emperor is no different. There is speculation that his planning for Denis Christel to takeover from him. His the planned successor and heir to the throne.
The General have used force against the opposition. The Emperor have used tricks that is common for leaders like him. He has used violence, detained, silenced media and brutally deported 250,000 immigrants from the DRC. Therefore, his not a “benevolent” dictator. His just another one of them and enjoys the perks of the highest office.
That is why he can siphon money to France. Buy weapons from Azerbaijan. While still securing debt-relief by western donors. That is the sort of man the Cobra is.
He has in the past promised “The Way Forward” but that always includes him and he never let it go. Now that he has power. He will never let it go. The Cobra will stay and the Emperor has no intention of leaving office. Even when the public has already voted him out once.
Today will not make a difference or any changes. The man is installing himself in power. Just like he did in 1980 and in 1997. All the promises and pledges of the past doesn’t matter. The election is only made to legitimize himself. We know that plenty of the militia members that got him to power either is in a high rank in the army or been vital in his Presidential Security Guard.
None of the previous elections have been deemed “free and fair” but have stated as “not free and fair”. We can expect the patronage and the ones loyal to him to be happy. The President and his men will be giddy. The rigged election and the preparation for the next term is already in play. Just like the laws was ushered in to allow him to stand again. Therefore, everything is in the making to make it happen.
A general like Denis will not let-go and he will not risk it either. The way he has gone after every enemy and opposition. He knows he cannot just step-down. They might want to investigate him and litigate his actions. That the Cobra and Emperor cannot accept. He got to reign supreme and no one else is supposed to that in Brazzaville. Peace.
““African Quality” is the industry term for fuels that are destined for African markets. They are characterised primarily by their high sulphur content, though the term also refers to fuels with other low-quality aspects such as a high olefinic or aromatic content. In short, this definition of African Quality matches the type of fuels that we found at petrol stations owned by Swiss trading companies in Africa” (Public Eye, P: 100, 2016).
There are viciousness and malice attempts all over the globe, there warlords killing for selling luxurious minerals and keeping resources in their hands to sell to get ammunition. Then there are not as vicious as them, but still worth condoning; the ones that knows that they are selling an off-brand product that they are not allowed elsewhere, but selling “African Quality”, low-level gasoline with blended high toxic and filled with metals, with levels higher than sulphur, PAHs and other chemicals that can be dangerous at certain extent.
Switzerland are a prosperous and business companies that are profitable abroad, like the ones mentioned in the report of Public Eye, that shows to what extent they go to earn fortunes. As they uses both connections to various regimes; they are using connections in Netherlands to blend and mix diesel and gasoline to the African market. That would be fine if it wasn’t an inferior product, but we’re a product that could be following standards of the same quality sold in Denmark or United Kingdom, instead it filled dangerous toxins and metals that can make the air-quality lower and make the car quickly destroyed. These acts should not go unnoticed.
Mixing and making cheap Gasoline in Abidjan, Ivory Coast:
“How was this waste produced? Every month for 16 months, between January 2006 and April 2007, Trafigura bought batches of coker naphtha created at a Mexican refinery, with the intention of turning them into blendstocks for gasoline. This coker naphtha is one of the lowest qualities of gasoline blendstocks and it is created during oil refining from the “bottom of the barrel”. It has two specificities: first, it contains very high levels of toxic substances, namely sulphur and mercaptan sulphur, and second, as a direct consequence, it is very cheap. In other words, it is an opportunity for (almost) any creative trader. “As cheap as anyone can imagine”. James McNicol, a trader from Trafigura, wrote in an email to his colleagues in December 2005, “[this] should make serious dollars”. Trafigura’s sole motivation for experimenting with the production process was profit. Company executives had estimated that buying and selling the coker naphtha would generate profit to the tune of US$7 million per cargo. But before “making serious dollars”, Trafigura had to convert the product into a suitable ingredient for African gasoline: it had to find a way to lower drastically the mercaptan sulphur content, otherwise its odour would be unbearably strong” (Public Eye, P: 17, 2016).
Abidjan – Minton Report on African Quality gasoline:
“Based on the Minton report and an internal Trafigura document we conclude that the total sulphur still in the washed naphtha was between 608 and 680 tons – equaling between 7,156 and 8,000 ppm. The Minton report noted that “the process had achieved a 47 percent reduction of the mercaptans [in the sense of transforming into other Sulphur components] and that some ended up in the aqueous waste phase and some in the oily product, but that the conversion rate was not known.“ An internal Trafigura memorandum dated 23rd September 2006 summarizes in paragraphs 1–3 how much coker naphtha was unloaded to the Probo Koala by three different vessels and the mercaptan Sulphur content of it before and after the washings: (1) 11 April 2006 M/T Seapurha: 28,829 mt, mercaptan sulphur level of 1,700 ppm and after washings 950 ppm. (2) 19 May 2006 M/T Moselle: 28,130 mt, mercaptan sulphur level of 2,014 ppm and after washings 950 ppm. (3) 18 June 2006 M/T Seavinha 28,284 mt, mercaptan sulphur level of 1,700 ppm and after washings 950 ppm. We can make an even more precise estimation: Based on Trafigura’s reply to the BBC that gives a summary of the composition of the waste as estimated by the claimants in a group litigation case – and based on analysis of the Netherlands Forensic Institute – the total sulphur content of the waste dumped in Abidjan was around 66 tons” (Public Eye, P: 149, 2016).
“In 2015, Trafigura had revenues of US$ 14.4 billion from Africa, making the continent its second largest market after Europe. Its competitor, Vitol, also operates widely on the continent. Thought to be the world’s largest commodity trader, Vitol might be expected to give some information about its activities if only in the public interest, but the company does not disclose its annual results. Many other Swiss companies also supply fuels to Africa” (Public Eye, P: 30, 2016).
Using Oil Deposits to blend into African Quality:
“Oil depots offer the opportunity to blend petroleum products according to the fuel quality required by the country (see chapters 9 and 10). With that respect, an advisor close to the BP-Puma transaction assumed Puma Energy was, among other reasons, buying petrol stations in order “to sell surplus of dirty products in Africa.” He was not the only one. A market analyst from Petroleum Intelligence Weekly also mentioned the “compromise” in fuel quality that could occur with the arrival of the traders.13 Weak regulation on fuel quality standards (particularly for sulphur) is a crucial factor in any analysis of the economic potential of petrol stations in Africa. As we show below, many high sulphur, low-quality intermediate products are available that can be blended into “African Quality” diesel and gasoline. Playing with qualities is a lucrative strategy and nothing else than a form of regulatory arbitrage” (Public Eye, P: 31, 2016).
Republic of Congo demand of Petroleum:
“Congo’s demand for petroleum products is satisfied by two sources. The first source is the state-owned refinery, Coraf, which is run by the President’s son Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, nicknamed “Kiki”. This refinery gets its oil from the State and provides diesel and gasoline to the local market. Coraf’s dodgy deals with a Swiss front company, Philia, have been the subject of a previous report by Public Eye” (…) “Tacoma and its Congolese subsidiary X-Oil have both been paying “consulting fees” to an offshore shell company belonging to Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, the Congolese President’s son and head of trading operations at SNPC, according to a 2006 Hong Kong court judgment.32 The shell company, Long Beach Limited (Anguilla), was part of a broader scheme set up by Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso to syphon off part of Congo’s oil wealth to private coffers, in collusion with Denis Gokana’s AOGC” (Public Eye, P: 43, 2016).
Difference between Europe and African levels of PAHs:
“So the actual gap between the African and European samples is even wider. Indeed, a study showed that the level of PAHs contained in diesel sold in Germany had an average of 2.73 percent of mass in 2013. So Vitol’s diesel, as sold in Senegal, has more than five times more PAHs than the diesel sold in Germany. Worldwide, the average of PAH in diesel is estimated to be 3.7 percent of mass, according to CONCAWE. This is certainly lower than what we found in Africa. Only two of our samples, found at Oryx in Zambia and Trafigura in Côte d’Ivoire, are lower than the global mean” (…) “The reason why African diesel fuels have high aromatic and polyaromatic content can easily be explained: almost no sub-Saharan African country regulates them. And so the trading companies who import these fuels are tempted to use cheaper, lower quality, high aromatic blendstocks for diesel in the African markets. This tactic might have commercial advantages, but for the people and for the environment where these fuels are sold, this “blend-dumping” is a very unhealthy practice” (Public Eye, P: 55, 2016).
Difference between Europe and African levels of sulphur:
“But if we compare the average sulphur levels in European gasoline (7 ppm) with the highest sulphur sample of gasoline from a station in Ghana belonging to UBI, a subsidiary of Puma Energy, then that discrepancy increases to a factor of 103. More generally, we found the highest levels of sulphur in Ghana and Mali. In Ghana, we found between 275 and 718 ppm sulphur in the four gasoline samples. This is within the legal limit, but the limit itself is very high (1,000 ppm), one hundred times higher than the European legal limit. Many of our samples show much higher sulphur contents than what refineries in West Africa often produce. The Tema refinery in Ghana produces an average 127 ppm gasoline” (Public Eye, P: 56, 2016).
Swiss trading in Ghana:
“In 2014, 4 of the 8 deliveries from Swiss trading companies fluctuated between 2,800 ppm and 3,200 ppm, highlighting a possible strategy to stick as close as possible to the legal limit. That same year, both Vitol and Trafigura delivered diesel with sulphur content so high that the product could not be sold at the pump. The product would have been further blended in the depot to lower its sulphur level, unless it ended up being sold off-spec (i.e. illegally) to consumers. Asked to comment about those of their cargoes containing higher sulphur content than allowed at the pump, Trafigura declined to do so while Vitol specified that it “does not comment on specific cargoes as a matter of policy.” (Public Eye, P: 75, 2016). “While the subsidies drained the public treasury, the BDCs benefited from them systemically delivering lower quality products than planned (<1,000 ppm). Indeed, our findings revealed sulphur levels in diesel that were on average much higher than 1,000 ppm both at the moment of import and at the pump. The price calculated by the government to subsidise the importers therefore didn’t correspond with the quality of products imported. In a totally legal manner, as they were respecting Ghana’s national standards, the importers profited from a system to the detriment of the government (public finances) and the consumers, not to mention Ghanaian health” (Public Eye, P: 79, 2016).
Money before People:
“Simply put, Swiss commodity trading companies put profits before anything else, even before the health of the population, while claiming, as Vivo does for instance in Côte d’Ivoire, that “it uses all the means and tools necessary to ensure the latest international standards of quality […] so that Ivorian consumers benefit from what is best in terms of fuel when going to a Shell petrol stations”. Our findings contravene these glossy CSR-statements. In a corporate video, Trafigura says that “Across Africa and other developing regions, our supply of affordable high-quality fuel products empowers local businesses.” Vivo Energy is the same, saying that “Our commitment to achieving and maintaining the highest international Health, Safety, Security and the Environment (HSSE) standards is at the heart of our business and is a key differentiator (…) in Africa.” Not to repeat a similar promise made by Oryx Energies, that “Our commitment (…) for Africa means that we take every precaution to minimise the potential impact our products and services may have on the environment.” Commenting on Oryx’s development in Mali, the chairman of the group, Jean Claude Gandur said: “This enables us to supply high-quality fuels (…) to an increasing number of clients.” The reality is quite different. Just to take Mali as an example, Oryx’s diesel in the land-locked country was the worst we found among 25 samples collected in 8 countries, with 380 times more sulphur than allowed by the European limit” (Public Eye, P: 126 , 2016).
We can easily see how the Swiss Corporations are earning fortunes on selling lower-quality petroleum to the African market as their loose regulation and easy market are acceptable for the degraded gasoline. This indicates how the European Corporation are doing what they can to earn monies on dangerous products that would not accept on their own shores. It’s disgraceful how these “African quality” gasoline and diesel are sold in different nations around on the African Continent.
It is not only bad for the cars and for the engines. It is harmful to the environment and the people who inhale the toxins and chemicals blends that come after the use of the gasoline. This pollution is man-made toxic blend that creates more harm than good. Still, it’s a legal product and allowed to sell without any questions. As the Governments are giving way to the Oil Companies and Holding Companies that are selling these there. This should not be acceptable.
Here is just one some samples of the bad business practices, there might be even more and worse than what the Public Eye found and what other companies do on the continent. To what extent they go to earn profits without consequences. This here proves the ability these companies have to be hazardous and be rough with nature and humanity while earning high profits on low-quality products. This should be sanctioned and stopped if it matter’s what people are inhaling and the damage it does to our bodies, secondly what these toxins do to our nature and surroundings as it might be in our food, waters and pollute our air. Certainly the initial findings prove the toxins and the ways of blending are reasons for itself to stop the manufacturing process of making it in general. Especially knowing how much better by just doing it proper and follow guidelines of European laws on gasoline and diesel would harm the environment less. The people should also not get polluted and get toxins because the corporations sell them a disgraceful product.
Last remark, when some of this by blending on ships or at facilities that produce already the European Standard gasoline or diesel, it is insulting that on the same refinery that they create worse product’s to sell leftovers to a continent; because they can and will to make as much profit as they can. This is our world and it’s not ideal, therefore we have to put a lid on it so it can change! Peace.
Public Eye – ‘Dirty Diesel – How Swiss Traders Flood Africa with Toxic Fuels’ (September 2016, Ghana)
“The Congolese government on Tuesday night announced that 17 people had died in Monday morning’s gunfire in the capital Brazzaville accusing former militia leader, Frederic Bintsamou, of being personally involved in the disorders. According to Thierry Moungalla, spokesman for the Congolese government, 17 people (3 agents of police, 2 civilians and 12 attackers) were killed in the “terrorist attack” that targeted the southern districts of the capital before “rapid response” of the police” (africanews, 2016).
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, April 8, 2016 –
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson
April 7, 2016
The United States is profoundly disappointed by the flawed presidential electoral process in the Republic of Congo. Widespread irregularities and the arrests of opposition supporters following the elections marred an otherwise peaceful vote.
The United States calls upon the Congolese Government to correct these numerous deficiencies before scheduling legislative elections in order to bring credibility to future electoral processes. We continue to urge the Congolese Government to respect the people’s constitutional rights of freedom of expression, movement, and association. We further encourage all parties to engage in constructive, inclusive dialogue.
The United States is also deeply concerned about the welfare of thousands of Congolese who awoke on April 4 to the sound of gunfire and explosions and fled their homes. A climate of fear works against the national unity and peace that the Congolese people deserve.
We are inspired by the Congolese people, who have demonstrated a strong commitment to democracy and have persevered in difficult times. Their continued peaceful involvement in the political process is vital to the future development of the Republic of Congo.