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French press review 11 October 2013

Wars, conflicts and strife are the favourite themes of the French papers when it comes to headlining on Africa but there is one exception.

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L’Humanité breaks the pattern this Friday with the story of young schoolgirl from Niger who managed to escape a forced marriage arranged by her uncle. Nana Aicha Salifou was rescued from marrying a cousin she had never seen after the plan was denounced to a Niamey court by an international NGO battling against underaged marriages in Niger.

The Communist Party daily reports that 39,000 girls are forced into unwanted marriages everyday and that 50 per cent of them are below the age of 15, according to UN statistics. L’Humanité warns that the abuse has made its way into France as well, with 10 per cent of minors affected.

The United Nations is mobilising for the Central African Republic, according to Le Figaro, after the UN Security Council passed a unanimous resolution sponsored by France on bolstering and transforming the African Misca peace-keeping mission deployed in the war-ravaged country.

The paper says another resolution is expected to be passed in December on the deployment of 3600 more forces with a strong mandate to disarm Seleka rebels spreading havoc across the country after installing Michel Djotodia in power.

Libération takes up the veto by France’s highest state regulatory body the State Council of a government scheme to open a supervised drug injection centre in Paris in November. The issue had become the subject of angry clashes between proponents and opponents of the pilot project aimed at fighting the spread of disease among adicts.

Libé notes that such centres already exist in nine countries, including 25 in Germany, 40 in the Netherlands and others in countries such as Spain, Denmark, Australia and Canada. It blames politicians for confronting the issue from an ideological angle instead of considering the health and security problem drug addiction poses to the nation’s youths. The medical research institute Inserm says the vast majority of drug addicts using the supervised centres are about 30 years old, 70 per cent of them are homeless and most are jobless males.

Le Figaro says that residents of the area in the 18th arrondissement of Paris where one of the centres was to be opened are relieved by the decision to freeze the “shoot room” project. According to the paper, the neighbourhood was chosen to host the centre due to the number of drug addicts and dealers who already invade the area every evening.

Le Figaro is presumably happy reporting the continuing slide in the polls of President François Hollande and his Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. The right-wing newspaper observes that the tandem are both at a 29 per cent popularity rating,according to the latest survey carried out by the LH2 institute for the left-leaning weekly Le Nouvel Observateur. For Le Figaro their continuing descent to polling hell is causing friction between the Elysée palace and Matignon, the prime minister’s office, with relations between the executive couple rendered more complex by the popularity of Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

Le Monde looks at a leadership battle that is tearing the opposition UMP party to shreds. It reports that ex-prime minister François Fillon has openly defied former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who made him premier while UMP co-founder Alain Juppé is bidding to attract the centrist vote. Le Monde believes the surge of the Front National is making the faction leaders of the opposition conservative party panic and threatening the unity of the  party.

“Paris is falling asleep,” headlines Aujourd’hui en France, as it counts the number of late-night stores and supermarkets being forced to pull down their shutters at 9 pm. The paper caught up with a number of nightbirds who complain that night-life is losing its sparkle as fewer and fewer hangouts remain open after 3.00 am. For the Parisian paper it is an aberration that the city of lights is looking increasingly like a sleeping beauty.

And L’Equipe reports that France’s national football team will be out on a confidence building expedition when they take on Australia in a friendly at the Parc des Princes in Paris tonight. This is ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifier against Finland in November. The sports journal says “Les Bleus” have got the blues and reeling from “désamour”, which football icon Zinedine Zidane finds extremely painful.

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