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French press review 9 August 2013

Africa takes pride of place in today’s French press. The Catholic daily La Croix and the French Communist Party newspaper L’Humanité discuss the challenges awaiting the winner of Sunday’s second round of Mali's presidential election.


La Croix says the front runner and long-time Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is already calling for reconciliation and the appeasing of tensions in the war-torn country, as he looks ahead to the poll. The paper says that his challenger, Soumaila Cissé, is an engineer and veteran of Mali politics who is banking on his brilliant CV to win over the confidence of voters and lead his country out of poverty.

Dossier: War in Mali

The Catholic newspaper says that there are five major projects awaiting the winner, whoever emerges victorious in the polls. He has to first find a solution to the campaign for a separate state waged by the Tuaregs in the north, undertake a spirited war against terrorism sponsored by al-Qaeda-backed Islamists, lead his country out of economic stagnation, fight corruption and build the state driven by democratic institutions and a Republican army.

L’Humanité tips Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as the odds-on favourite, pointing to a series of endorsements he has received from several prominent candidates eliminated in the first round. The paper sees the campaign for a separate Tuareg nation and the intrusion of Islam in Mali’s politics as the greatest challenges facing the new President.

The Communist Party daily recalls the massive protest staged across Mali in 2009, masterminded by Islamists fundamentalists opposed to a new family code introduced by the government, which they considered too liberal. The paper also caught up with a senior civil servant from the predominantly illiterate Tuareg community and he says that people from the ethnic group, especially the youth, feel sidelined as Mali seeks its new destiny.

Le Figaro published the findings of a new poll showing huge support for the banning of the Islamic veil at French Universities. The survey carried out by the IFOP polling agency says up to 78 percent of the French from both sides of the political divide favour the removal of the veil from classrooms.

Dossier: IAAF World Championships

Le Figaro quotes Interior Minister Manuel Valls saying that the recommendation by the National Council for Integration deserves serious consideration.

The French Premier League football season kicks off this Friday, with 2012 champions Paris Saint-Germain opening the defence of their title at Montpellier.

The sports daily L’Equipe bets on PSG dominating the competition, following its reinforcement by Uruguay superstar Edinson Cavani. He joins Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brazil’s Thiago Silva, which sends Aujourd’hui en France relishing about a “superstars war” that's about to break out in France.

For Libération, the title is already settled but Les Echos believes it will be decided between PSG and Monaco, who splashed out 111 and 147 million euros respectively for new signings. That, according to the economic newspaper, moves the French premier league into a new dimension: a 2-speed competition, in which the two giant outfits will dwarf the other clubs operating with Lilliputian budgets.

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