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Alain Akouala Atipault (born 1959[1]) is a Congolese politician who has served in the government of Congo-Brazzaville as Minister of Communication, in charge of Relations with Parliament, and Government Spokesman since 2002.[2]

Akouala Atipault was born in Brazzaville. In 1995, he became a communications adviser to the Committee for the Privatization of State Enterprises; he also served for a time as communications adviser to the National Oil Company of Congo (Société Nationale des Pétroles du Congo, SNPC). At the time of the March 2002 parliamentary election, he was President Denis Sassou Nguesso's campaign spokesman;[1] after the election, he was appointed to the government as Minister of Communication, in charge of Relations with Parliament, as well as Government Spokesman on 18 August 2002. He remained in that post for seven years,[2] and was ironically nicknamed "the minister of denial" by opposition media.[3]

In response to "misconceptions" in The Washington Times, Akouala Atipault wrote a commentary piece for that paper that was published on 11 June 2006. He defended President Sassou Nguesso and the government's policies, arguing that Congo-Brazzaville was heavily burdened by debt and badly needed debt relief.[4]

In the 2007 parliamentary election, he stood as a candidate in Gamboma II constituency,[5][6] but he was defeated by Guy Timothée Ngantsio Gambou.[6] He appealed to the Constitutional Court, but his appeal was rejected.[5][6]

At the time of the 12 July 2009 presidential election, in which Sassou Nguesso ran for re-election against an opposition field thinned by boycotts and disqualifications, Akouala Atipault dismissed the opposition's claims of fraud as "incorrect," and claimed the presence of 170 international observers disproved the accusations of fraud.[7]

Akouala Atipault was named Minister for Special Economic Zones during a cabinet reshuffle in September 2009. In his capacity as National President of Citizen Force, a political association,[8] he maintains a high profile in national political discourse.

When scandal erupted in October 2009 over a book foreword supposedly written by Nelson Mandela for a collection of interviews with Sassou Nguesso, with Mandela's foundation claiming he had neither read the book in question nor authorised his name to be associated with it,[9] Akouala Atipault again came to the Congolese president's defense. Arguing that the Congolese people needed nobody's permission to use Mandela's name, he told an interviewer that "Mandela doesn't even belong to himself. He belongs to us." Akouala Atipault went on to urge legal action against the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which he described as "an organization that, in reality, has nothing to do with the personality of Nelson Mandela," and condemned it as a commercial concern linked with "savage capitalism and international finance." [10]

References

  1. ^ a b "Who's Who", CONGO BRAZZAVILLE: LES HOMMES DE POUVOIR n°1, Africa Intelligence, 29 October 2002 (French).
  2. ^ a b List of governments of Congo since 1999, izf.net (French).
  3. ^ Mwinda Press, "Akouala, ne nous quitte pas"(French)
  4. ^ Alain Akouala, "Republic of Congo's path", The Washington Times, 11 June 2006.
  5. ^ a b Roger Ngombé, "Verdict de la Cour constitutionnelle : reprise du scrutin législatif dans quatre circonscriptions électorales", Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, 27 October 2007 (French).
  6. ^ a b c "Elections législatives 2007 : le scrutin a été annulé dans quatre circonscriptions", congo-site.com, 29 October 2007 (French).
  7. ^ "Congo counts votes after contested presidential poll", AFP, 12 July 2009.
  8. ^ "Le ministre Alain Akouala Atipault intronise les bureaux de l'association « Force Citoyenne » à Talangaï", Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, 7 September 2007 (French).
  9. ^ Nelson Mandela Foundation, "Abuse of Nelson Mandela's Name", October 20, 2009.
  10. ^ La Semaine Africaine no. 2941, 30 October 2009, p.4 "Nous n'accepterons pas que des mercantilistes fassent du revisionisme sur notre histoire." (French)
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