Ivory Coast: July 28, 2003

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: The South African government is apparently getting serious about curbing uncontrolled mercenary activity by its citizens. The first person to be arrested under new laws for recruiting mercenaries for African wars was taken into custody at around 4PM on the 26th. Richard Rouget was arrested after stepping off a flight from Harare, Zimbabwe while hunting rifles, documents, were confiscated after a search of his residence. Rouget was charged with recruiting mercenaries to fight in the Ivory Coast, which is a violation of the 1988 Foreign Military Assistance Act. This law prohibits any citizen from participating in foreign conflicts without prior government approval.

From the Truth Commission files on the 1988 murder of Godfrey Motsepe, Rouget allegedly led a group of mercenaries in Europe that was doing reconnaissance on the African National Congress. In June 1985 and using the alias 'Sander's, Rouget became a mercenary officer of Bob Denard's Comorian Presidential Guard. 

According to the 'Richard Rouget Safaris' website, he is a graduate of the French Military Academy, serving until 1984 as a commissioned officer in the French Army's air-mobile infantry. Having first set foot in Africa as a soldier, he has lived on the continent since 1985 and is now a South-African citizen. 

In the 70s, Rouget had been active in extreme right-wing movements like GUD ("Groupe Union Dfense", a student union) and PFN ("Parti des Forces Nouvelles"). Without completing his studies, he entered the French Army and rose to the rank of warrent officer ("sous lieutenant"). 

The regulation quite clearly states that authorization has to be granted by the government, which reading between the lines means that the South Africans can see a use for Private Military Companies but has a big problem with unregulated mercenaries. The flip side of the argument may be that Private Military Companies might view the South African government as too incompetent to be involved in their business. Meanwhile, the South African government was working to trace other South Africans who may be working with Rouget. - Adam Geibel

Richard Rouget Safaris online at:
www.rouget.co.za/content/about.htm.

 

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