At a press conference in Paris, the Foreign Minister of the Central African Republic, Mr.?
At a press conference in Paris, the Foreign Minister of the Central African Republic, Mr. Sylvestre Bangui, has said that now-deposed Emperor Bokassa did not give diamonds to French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing. Mr. Bangui called the press conference after the allegations had been made in a French newspaper.
SYNOPSIS: At the Central African Republic's embassy,newsmen gathered to hear the latest about an affair which has caused a political storm in France.
The Central African Foreign Minister Mr. Sylvestre Bangui told them, however, that former Emperor Jean Bedel Bokassa had never given diamonds to the French President. He said the former Emperor was, indeed, in the habit of withdrawing diamonds from the national store - ostensibly to give distinguished foreigners - but that instead he used to pocket them for himself.
Mr. Bangui's denial came in reply to the initial allegations, by the French magazine "Le Canard Enchaine", which claimed to have a copy of an order made in 1973 by Emperor Bokassa. The order was asking for diamonds from the national store in order to give to Monsieur Giscard D'Estaing, who was then the French Finance Minister. Mr. Bangui said on Tuesday (October 23) that this order was a fake.
Mr. Bangui went on to say there were not even enough jewels in Central Africa for the imperial jewels, and that they often had to be obtained from other countries. "Bokassa withdrew stones from the diamond bureau whenever there were foreign personalities in town to provide a pretext for him to use them", he said.
Mr. Bangui's statement came twelve days after French Presidential spokesman had said it was not worthy of the presidential function to furnish explanations on reports which rested either on defamation or a concerted smear campaign. An earlier statement had also said that in any case, exchanges of diplomatic presents between the two countries had not been of the nature or the value that had been alleged.