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French press review 1 August 2014

The deadly Ebola virus, which has got the advocates of the free movement of people and goods across west Africa scratching their heads, is making headline news in the national dailies this morning.

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The Catholic daily La Croix reports that the deadly haemorrhagic fever has killed 729 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea since the start of the year with 1,300 more diagnosed with Ebola as the epidemic spreads across the sub-region, according to World Health Organisation statistics. The French charity Doctors Without Borders, which is leading the do-or-die battle to contain the virus, says 122 new cases were diagnosed between the 23-27 July.

According to La Croix, the death of 57 people from Ebola over the past four days has forced Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma to declare a state of emergency and call off his visit to Washington to attend the US-Africa summit which gets underway on Monday.

As fears grow about a mass exodus from the three countries devastated by the killer virus, the Catholic daily reports that Liberia has ordered the closure of schools after failing to contain the epidemic while Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria stepped up controls at their borders.

"Ebola virus out of control" warns Libération on its front page with a photograph of an African medic dressed in a full-body protective suit, his eyes carrying the fears of the world terrified by the spread of the epidemic that has killed more than 700 people since its appearance in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea at the start of the year.

Laurie Garret, a leading American Ebola expert, tells Libé that poor surveillance and the late intervention by Western governments are to blame for the rapid spread of the killer disease.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

La Croix is monitoring the start of the trial of Karim Wade, the son of ex-Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade for corruption in Dakar. The 57-year-old, fondly remembered in the country as minister of heaven and earth due to the string of government portfolios he held, is accused of stealing public funds to the tune of 178 million euros while serving under his father. Karim, who has been under detention since last year, is believed to have stashed away the money in tax havens, according to the paper.

L’Humanité expresses its indignation at the heavy human toll of Israel’s military operation in Gaza, where 1,395 civilians have been killed. The Communist Party newspaper says it knows the real motives behind the Israeli war against Gaza. Israel, it claims, presents itself as the victim trying to destroy Hamas tunnels but is in fact implementing a political objective, to divide the Palestinians and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.

With Israel vowing to pursue the destruction of the Hamas tunnels, despite agreeing to a 72-hour ceasefire, ex-French prime minister Dominique de Villepin expresses amazement that France isn’t speaking out against the massacre perpetrated in Gaza.

He shares his view in an interview with Le Figaro. According to De Villepin, in the absence of a negotiated solution, it is imperative to impose one, by tabling a UN Security Council resolution placing the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem under UN mandate, complete with an administration and a peacekeeping force.

Le Figaro also breaks the absolutely unbelievable story of the disappearance of 50 kilogrammes of cocaine from the headquarters of the French judicial police in downtown Paris. It reports that the packages, worth 3.5 million euros, were seized during a number of raids across the capital which led to the dismantling of a notorious Senegalese drug-trafficking ring. The IGPN, the unit in charge of investigating crimes committed by police officers, is investigating what happened to the precious merchandise.

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