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French Press review 2 June 2015


US-led allies plot way forward against IS in Paris after spectacular gains by the jihadists, Ouagadougou's search for Sankara's remains and looming genocide in Burundi as Bujumbura regime continues crackdown on opponents of Nkurunziza's bid for a third term.


Le Monde accuses the regime in Bujumbura of using real-life bullets to shoot demonstrators opposed to President Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term. The paper has eyewitness accounts of the unprecedented brutality exercised even on women. One widow who left her children at home tells the paper how she was bundled to the floor, hit with guns and kicked in the face by police when the protests broke out last month.

Nkurunziza didn’t bother to join regional leaders in Dar Es Salaam on Sunday where they agreed to postpone the presidential election by 90 days, according to Le Monde. The paper says he was represented at the summit by his two brothers Willy Nyamitwe, communications adviser in the President’s Office, and Alain recalled from his post as ambassador to Ethiopia and appointed foreign minister.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame was the big absentee at the summit writes Le Monde. It recalls that Kagame has voiced strong opposition for a third Nkurunziza’s term, warning that the crisis could degenerate into ethnic anti-Tutsi tensions and into a massacre.

The late Burkina Faso President Thomas Sankara is making headlines in the French press this morning. Le Figaro has been watching coroners ordered by the country’s judiciary as they exhumed for verification the remains buried under a monument in the centre of Ouagadougou in honour of the young military leader killed in a coup d’état on October 15, 1987.

According to the right-wing newspaper part of the veil has been lifted after the team which includes French expert discovered human bones and pieces of cloth 40 meters into the tomb alleged to bear the remains of the murdered leader.

But Le Figaro says that while forensic experts get down to work to very if the DNA is Sankara’s, his ousted successor Blaise Compaoré continues to be seen in Burkina Faso as the mastermind of the assassination. The country’s current leaders believe that he built the monument to conceal his guilt.

Despite denying any role in the murder, the paper points out that there were also rivalries between the two captains Sankara and Compaoré. Le Figaro also says that the former colonial master, France has struggled to dissociate itself from the coup, despite the existence of unexplored traces.

For the paper, relations between the then French President Francois Mitterrand and Sankara were like those between a young rebel who wanted to teach an experienced statesman how to perform tricks he heard about long before but which he was gradually learning how to apply them.

La Croix comments about this Tuesday’s meeting here in Paris of 24 countries and organizations involved in the US-led coalition carrying out air raids against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The gathering gets underway a day after a huge suicide bomb against an Iraqi police base killed at least 37 people. The area is being used as part of a military operation aimed at cutting off the Islamic State group's supply lines in Anbar province of western Iraq.

According to the Catholic newspaper, the big question which will be on the table of the Paris conference is how to neutralize Isis. Unfortunately, they don’t have a response says the paper. It argues that a sustained airstrikes on positions held by the IS have proven inefficient, the movement remaining the master of its destiny in the vast territories conquered in Iraq and Syria.

The main problem lies in the diversity of their adversaries, explains the journal -- Shia militia enrolled by Iraq’s regular army in the south, and Kurdish militias to the north. This is coupled with an even more complex situation in Syria where there are even more factions, some fighting against IS while others are waging an armed rebellion against the Basha al Assad regime in Damascus.

With such splits, the region’s countries and Western powers with conflicting and divergent interests can’t provide the efficient support necessary to win the war. La Croix  furthermore, points to the lack of credible mediators, the illegitimacy of the pro-Iranian Shia –dominated government in Iraq and the fact that most members of the Western coalition no longer recognize the battered regime in Damascus incarnated by Basha al Assad.

La Croix believes that IS therefore likely to remain a formidable force in the heart of the Middle East for several years feeding on confessional hatred propagated by religious forces solidly entrenched in the monarchies of the Arabic peninsula. Hence, La Croix’s conviction, that the show of unity in Paris this Tuesday is nothing more than a brave face.

Libération is reporting some surprising news coming from the historic city of Palmyra seized by IS on May 21 after a nine-day battle. According to the paper, there are no signs of the kind of violence and cultural cleansing of the Middle East unleashed on Raqqa and Ramadi after the fall of the two towns.

Libé’s correspondent instead found out that they have spared the population and the antiquities for the moment, re-established electricity and internet access and, subsidized the local hospital in what appears to be a ploy to gain the confidence of the city’s inhabitants.

And the sport daily l’Equipe cheers for Jo Wilfried Tsonga, the last French hopeful in this year’s French Open as he prepares for his quarter final showdown with Japan’s Kei Nishikori. This is after Gaël Monfil, Gilles Simon, Jeremy Chardy and Richard Gasquet were swept out of the Roland Garros on a calamitous day. It’s the sixth attempt by the big-serving Tsonga to reach the semi final of a grand slam event, according to the sports daily.

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