October 24, 2021


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How does the French state play the Total game in Uganda

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Friends of the Earth-France, Monitor of Multinational Corporations, and Survie today publish a new and unprecedented survey: How the French country plays in the Total Game in Uganda. It plunges us into the heart of the influence strategies put in place by multinational corporations to secure support – diplomatic, economic and military – for the French authorities in developing their huge oil project in this country. At the heart of this mechanism is the revolving door system: the report reveals how far senior officials come and go between Total and the various ministries and key institutions.

While the devastating human rights and environmental impacts of the Tilenga (oil extraction) and EACOP (giant oil pipeline) projects in Uganda and Tanzania have been extensively documented, they are the subject of legal action and “increased mobilization, they are not”. Only the major oil company that does not take into account the numerous warnings from civil society and scientists. Indeed, the French state, in complete contrast to its rhetoric in favor of human rights and the climate, is putting all its resources at the service of Total to ensure the success of these harmful projects.

Our survey thus details how public institutions (Elysée, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, French Embassy in Uganda, BPI, AFD, CDC, APE, Army), which are supposed to represent and defend the public interest, are misled in favor of oil. Special interests of a multinational corporation.

Olivier Pettijean, of the Multinational Enterprises Observatory, explains: “The ‘revolving doors’ are at the heart of Total’s impact strategy: the group’s debauchery of former high-ranking officials and politicians, or on the contrary encouraging its executives to return to the civil service, with the result of retaining the Confusion between the interests of Total and its shareholders and those of France.”

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Juliette Renaud, member of the Amis de la Terre France responded: “Thanks to the revolving doors and sponsorship of public events, it seems that Total’s interests have infiltrated the French state from all sides. In the name of economic diplomacy, the Embassy in Kampala, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and even Emmanuel Macron himself are giving blind support to climate projects. These, which are already depriving more than 100,000 people of their livelihoods in Uganda and Tanzania. While France prepares a new rhetoric on the international scene, on the occasion of COP26, it is time for the French state to stop playing the Total game!”

Thomas Barth, from Survie, concludes: “While the repression of civil society and dissenting voices seeking to denounce human rights violations and environmental damage in Uganda is increasing, the French government does not hesitate to develop its military cooperation with the authoritarian Ugandan regime. The latter announced the deployment of new military units “To protect ‘future oil installations… on site, these forces are used to silence any opposition to the Total project’.”