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French press review 18 January 2011

Today's papers continue with, depending on which one you read, the 'Facebook' or 'Jasmine' Revolution in Tunisia. The overall consensus is that the new government of national unity, unveiled yesterday after the flight of president Zine el Abdine Ben Ali, will probably not be enough to calm tempers on the streets.


Communist l'Humanité leads with the headline 'No respite for the Ben Ali regime'. The paper says that with a majority of Ben Ali's men in the new administration, opposition protesters on the streets will continue to demonstrate.

Left-wing Libération is calling the move a 'high risk transition'. It says in this morning's editorial that the transition from a dictatorship to democracy is never easy. Ben Ali had such a tight grip on the opposition that creating a true transition would have been difficult to say the least. Nevertheless, it is not enough. Tunisians won't stop until they truly believe they are on the path to democracy.

On the inside pages, the paper says the foreign minister here in France has good reason to be a little hot under the collar this morning.

Last week Michèle Alliot-Marie said with all her ministerial gusto, that France fully supported the Ben Ali regime and was ready to lend his government all the advice it needed on how to quell the revolting masses.

Well, suffice to say that now, she looks a little silly. She has been called to answer questions in front of parliament today. I'm sure the first one will be, 'Just what were you thinking, Michèle'?

Opposition parties have called for her resignation. And her own UMP party is only ever so quietly supporting her. It looks like she'll be out on her own in front of the MPs later.

Tunisia is demoted to a tiny corner of the front page of this morning's edition of Le Figaro. The headline covers today's state visit of Chinese president Hu Jintao to Washington. "The Giants go Head to Head".

The paper says that several thorny issues will be on the table - North Korea, Human Rights and what America sees as the undervaluation of the Chinese currency, the Yuan.

Finally the "Story of the Day" in Le Figaro is all about the future of what cars will sound like. It sounds a little bit dull and it is, until the day comes that you’re knocked down by an electric vehicle that you didn't hear coming.

Car manufacturers, we're told, are working around the clock with sound designers to come up with pleasant noises to replace the gurgle of the internal combustion engine.

Apparently the sky's the limit. So there you have it, the new ‘ringtone’, to alert or perhaps annoy the unaware bystander.


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