Anti-French Cameroon MP arrested in Paris

07 Feb 2002


PARIS, Feb 6: Laurence Mongkuo Ngupepong was arrested on Jan 28 in Paris with 30 kg of cannabis in his possession.

So far the story is quite commonplace, unfortunately an everyday occurence in a city which has seen its drug problem boomerang almost overnight.

But it’s what happened after Mr Ngupepong’s arrest that intrigues French authorities, and may turn the man’s arrest into an issue to be debated during France’s upcoming presidential elections.

As it happens, Mr Ngupepong is a deputy and a member of Cameroon’s principal opposition party, the SDF (Social Democratic Front), one of those parties that regularly complains about the excessive presence of France in the affairs of Cameroon, a Central African state located between Gabon and Nigeria, and which from time to time suggests that the country’s anglophone western provinces might best think of seceding.

If Mr Ngupepong, also a lawyer, found himself in Paris with his supply of cannabis, it was, he told befuddled interrogators, to quite openly find the financing for his reelection campaign.

The cost of campaigns, he told the police, had become so excessive in Cameroon, that he thought he’d come up with a good idea, take some locally- produced cannabis and bring it to Cameroon’s mother country, France, where - in fact - such “soft” drugs do get sold quite openly on the streets, especially those of the 10th arrondissement of Paris, where finally he was arrested, after police said they received an anonymous tip.

The second reason why Mr Ngupepong’s fray with French justice might very well turn into an issue for the presidential campaign, which is to start shortly, is that he was summarily released by the police, albeit after an interrogation at the Quai des Orfevres, the police headquarters in Paris.