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French Press review 1 June 2015


Nicolas Sarkozy's rivals dig in for full-blown fight after being booed at their new Republic party congress and the French paints a black portrait of Burundi's embattled President turned footballer Pierre Nkurunziza.


Nkurunziza, birth of a dictator, shouts Libération. This, as Burundian leader faces calls from regional leaders to push back June 5th elections by a month and a half until all violence is stopped, following weeks of unrest. The paper reports that despite being barred by the constitution, the strange character that spends a lot of time praying or playing football is seeking a new mandate which has sparked mass protests and a crackdown by security forces.

According to Libé, the left-leaning newspaper spoke to the Paris-based Burundi academic David Gakunzi. He says that Pierre Nkurunziza is a war lord who will relinquish nothing as long as he believes he is in control of his territory.

Meanwhile in France, the "founding" congress of the French Republican Party born from the ashes of the main opposition UMP movement dominates the front pages of some of this morning’s papers. This, as ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy tries to repaint his scandal-tainted party and improve its image ahead of the 2017 Presidential election.

“Republicans launch the battle for change”, crows Le Figaro. According to the right-wing newspaper, Socialism is over Sarkozy is looking to capitalize on the congress to reshuffle his team and prepare a “republic of confidence”, a demanding Republic as opposed to the easy-going, lenient Socialist-led administration in power.

Le Monde identifies authority, identity and circularism as the three pillars Sarkozy has erected to carry the Republicans and his new bid for the Elysée to victory in 2017. For the paper, his presentation of “Les Republicains” as the rallying cry of everyone suffering from the decline of the French Republic is evidence that he will stop at nothing to get re-elected.

Libération warns that Sarkozy’s dream is to paint the left as laxist and too weak to defend the Republic under attack by communitarian minorities.

Le Parisien however warns Sarkozy not to celebrate too early. It claims that the impressive display of unity and the beautiful family picture taken at the end of the congress will not drown the cat calls which greeted the speeches of Sarkozy’s main rivals -- the ex-prime ministers Alain Juppé and Francois Fillon.

According to the newspaper the incidents have sharpened the presidential ambitions further. To make its point, the Parisian newspaper posts a video on its website of an unruffled Juppé recorded after the Congress. He says that while Sarkozy can boast of having the party behind him, public opinion is on his side.

The latest tracking poll by the BVA pollster found that 62 percent of French voters consider Alain Juppé as the best candidate to represent the Conservative party in next year’s presidential primaries against 47 percent for Nicolas Sarkozy. The former French head of state leads Juppé by 33 to 28 percent among registered members of the right-wing UMP party according to the survey.

And L’Equipe rolls out for “Jo Olympique” after a very solid Jo Wilfried Tsonga downed World Number 4 Tomas Berdych at the French Open on Sunday. The Frenchman faces Kei Nishikori of Japan in the quarter finals.

This year’s Roland Garros is proving to be very tough for the French Mousquetaires according to the sports daily as Gilles Simon was swept away by Stan Wawrinka. The showdown between Gaël Monfils and Roger Federer was called off at one set a piece due to rain and is scheduled to resume later today.

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