Nothing says "let's be friends!" quite like opening up a corruption case against your buddy in Magistrate Court. Right?
A French court approved a probe yesterday into the assets and dealings of three African presidents, who are, rather awkwardly, some of the country's best allies on the continent. Omar Bongo of Gabon, Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo Republic, and Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea will face scrutiny for charges brought by the French branch of Transparency International. The leaders are accused of embezzling funds from their impoverished countries for luxury homes and cars. Politics considerations are urged to be left aside.
While perhaps embarrassing for the African presidents, I imagine this investigation should be even more scandalous for France -- and not just because France has commercial ties in each of the accused presidents' countries. France surely knows that its property market boasts owners among Africa's elite (and, in these cases, corrupt); it has been that way since colonial days. That it has taken so long to "notice" this trend is not likely a matter of innocent oversight. And in terms of the this friendship, the truth does indeed hurt.
PATRICK KOVARIK/ ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images