French press review 4 April 2014
The French press considers Chad’s pull out from the CAR as necessary but untimely, while other papers say French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is making a high-risk take-off.
Aujourd’hui en France reports that Chad announced the decision to send its 6,000-strong force home citing an alleged “gratuitous smear campaign” against its troops in the Central African Republic (CAR).
La Croix doubts there was still any role for the Chadian contingent in the Misca peace-keeping mission after last Saturday’s incident in Bangui in which Chadian soldiers opened fire on a crowd, killing 24 people.
For Aujourdh’ui en France, while the Chadians had a bad reputation in the country, their exit in a few weeks is bad news for France as the 800-strong EU force expected to be deployed there will not be in place for a while.
As the new French government settles down to work, Libération publishes an exclusive interview with Green former minister Cécile Duflot. She says leaving the government was a painful but necessary decision, arguing she couldn’t do otherwise as she deeply deplores President François Hollande’s incapacity to change political direction. However, Libé holds however that her walkout is due to personal differences with Valls, adding that her position has sparked deep divisions within Europe Ecologie-Les Verts.
Le Figaro adds up the high-risk projects of Valls’s government. These include putting more flesh on President François Hollande’s Responsibility Pact, itemising the flagship measure of slashing public spending by 50 billion euros. The right-wing newspaper observes that he also faces the daunting task of securing his party’s support for the government’s austerity policies, reversing the rise in unemployment, finding the right balance in relations with the president, winning the respect of his ministers and avoiding a rout in upcoming European elections.
The right-wing newspaper notes that the newly appointed government holds its first cabinet meeting at the Elysée today, ahead of Manuel Valls’s much-awaited policy speech in parliament which must be followed by a vote of confidence under standard procedure in France. For Le Figaro it will be a high-risk operation for Valls whose party is left with a razor-thin majority in the house following the Greens’ departure.
The Socialists are counting their losses after the devastating defeat suffered during last week’s local elections, writes Aujourd’hui en France. The paper estimates that the shortfall in party revenue could be as high as one million euros as most of its elected officials are now facing redundancy. The newspaper reports a rising clamour for the dismissal of Socialist Party chief Harlem Désir, who is accused of turning the party into an empty vessel, in order to avoid a more devastating defeat in upcoming European elections.
The Catholic daily La Croix picks out the 74.9-billion-euro French budget deficit, judicial reform and the school curriculum as the old questions which need urgent treatment by the new government.
Aujourd’hui en France says Valls’s high-profile offer to boost France’s low incomes by 100 euros is easier said than done. It points to a study which shows that the planned pay vouchers for the worst-off will translate into just 19 euros more in their wallets. A Socialist lawmaker claims that some categories of workers, such as parents with two children and single childless workers, lose at times up to 80 per cent of their wages
Libération says former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is again the centre of attention in yet another twist in the ongoing investigation into suspected illegal funding of his 2007 presidential campaign by Libya’s Moamer Kadhafi.
This is after Le Monde’s revelation that current French intelligence chief Patrick Calvar was questioned last Friday. Le Monde says investigating judges Serge Tournaire and René Grouman tapped Calvar’s phone and overheard him on two occasions exchanging information with former police chief and ex-Sarkozy cabinet director Michel Gaudin about submissions made to judicial police by Kadhafi’s interpreter Moftah Missouri. He is himself a potentially embarrassing witness in the case having said on TV that Kadhafi confirmed to him that he had contributed 20 million euros to Sarkozy’s campaign.
Libé says that several former Libyan dignitaries have confirmed Missouri’s testimony. The judges, according to the paper, are now investigating the origin of 500,000 euros transferred from Malaysia to the account of Sarkozy’s ex-cabinet chief Claude Guéant to establish whether it was the price of two paintings Guéant claims he sold or illegal political funding.
As the French Aids charity Sidaction launches its annual fund-raising campaign this Friday, Aujourd’hui en France caught up with a woman who has been living with the condition for 27 years. Cathérine tells the paper about her battle, her distress and questions crisscrossing her mind as the years go by.