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French press review 17 June 2015

Boko Haram to bear the brunt of deadly bombings in Chad's capital, a gist of life in Eritrea, Africa's North Korea, one of the origins of the refugee influx causing a looming political crisis in Europe. And a "thou shalt not polute" encyclical from Pope Francis, puts the Church at the fore front of Climate change battle ahead of the Paris COP 21 Summit.


We begin with the twin bombings in Chad’s capital Ndjamena which killed 24 people and more than a hundred others wounded. Le Figaro claims that while no one has claimed responsibility for the explosions at the capital city’s Central Police Station and Police College, the Boko Haram sect remains the prime suspect.

The conservative publication recalls the recent threat issued by the Islamist group’s leader Abubakar Shekau against Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad all countries situated less than 50 kms from the terrorists’ lair in Nigeria’s Borno State. More so, Chad hosts the headquarters of the regional joint military taskforce and provided 5,000 of the mission’s 8,700 soldiers. Le Figaro highlights President François Hollande’s condemnation of the barbaric act as well as his determination to get Islamist group pay for the “new human horror”.

This morning’s Libération has a rare inside picture of life in Eritrea. It is Africa’s North Korea, warns the paper which goes on to explain that the totalitarian regime envies nothing from Pyongyang, complete with a “fervent Maoist” in power, torture prisons and forced military service.

The reign of terror has left its population trying everything possible to flee the country, according to the left-leaning publication. Osman, an Eritrean in exile, gives a gist of life in the failed state to Libé. It is essentially about to and fro trips to prison, he says, adding that the majority of his compatriots would rather live in refugee camps than stay at home and spy on their neighbours for the regime in Asmara.

L’Humanité publishes shocking clichés shot in the Alps border town of Vintimille as Italian riot police violently dispersed hundreds of economic migrants staging sit-ins and hunger strikes in the bid to cross into France.

Le Figaro’s issue of interest is the heavy burden faced by France with some 64,000 asylum seekers recorded in 2014, 20,000 over 2009 figures. This, according to the right-wing newspaper, is despite the fact that 95 percent of the applications have been rejected. It is calling for the immediate drafting of a new law to facilitate expulsion operations.

The killing of Al-Qaeda’s franchise leader in Yemen Nasir al-Wuhayshi in a presumed CIA drone strike on the heels of the apparent death of Sahara warlord Mokhtar Belmokhtar in a US air strike draws comments from Wednesday’s papers. Le Monde says Al-Wahishi’s death is a major blow to the jihadist group as he was also the second in command of the global organization.

Libération identifies Abu Bassir al-Wahishi as the mastermind of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, adding that his jihadist galaxy in the Arabic Peninsula was the most efficient, the most dangerous and the best organized of all. An ex-body guard to Ossama Ben Laden Nasser Al-Bahri tells Le Figaro that Abu Bassir al-Wahishi’s stature as Ben Laden’s secretary made him the subject of great reverence by other members of Al-Qaeda.

The National dailies are all running leaked excerpts from the much awaited encyclical, by Pope Francis in which he takes a frontline role in the fight against climate change. The landmark Church statement on the environment, due to be officially released on Thursday, places the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics firmly in the camp of those who say climate change is mainly man-made.

According to La Croix, the much-awaited encyclical, entitled "Laudato Si" (Be Praised), addressed to bishops around the world Francis presents a compelling case for action to phase out fossil fuels and develop alternative energy sources to save the planet from human destruction. The papal intervention is seen, by the Catholic daily, as a potential game-changer by Green groups, and it comes six months before nearly 200 international leaders gather at the COP 21 Summit in Paris to try and seal a global deal on steps to reduce carbon emissions.

“Thou shalt not pollute” barks Libération, apparently praying that the Pope’s first ever declaration of a moral imperative to reduce fossil fuel consumption, can be raised by devine intervention into an eleventh commandment. It is worth recalling that Pope Francis gave a taste of his views on the issue last month, when he warned "the powerful of the earth" that they would answer to God if environmental damage undermined the drive to end global hunger. According to the paper, Greens and Christians alike do have a tendency of sanctifying nature, the two sides at time adopting conservative positions such as the manipulation of the living.

Le Monde praises the Pope for the encyclical pitched beyond the confines of the Church and which establishes a clear link between defending the environment and delivering social justice. Pope Francis, it says clearly, blames rich countries for the destruction of Planet Earth but also on the lives of people across the globe, especially the poor. For the paper the Pope’s stance reflects a refreshing understanding of climate issues by the Church after half a century of apprenticeship.

Migrants are wreaking havoc between Paris, Berlin and Rome. This is according to Le Figaro, as it examines the tense standoff over some 57,000 people rescued off the coast of Italy since the start of the year. France and Germany have proposed the creation of a large EU- funded refugee camp in Sicily where arriving immigrants will be registered and their status decided.

But Italy angered by the absence of solidarity on the part of her partners is now threatening to activate a B plan which could hurt the whole of Europe. The right-wing newspaper reports that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has threatened to issue Schengen visas to the thousands of economic immigrants streaming into the country – a move that could spark a major political crisis in Europe.

A new International Monetary Fund report claims that the world’s wealthiest fortunes are getting rich at the expense of economic growth. Le Monde which published the study reports that the institution challenges the trickle down theory based on the thesis that wealth feeds growth. According to the publication, the IMF experts are urging governments to instead support the middle class and the most destitute to spur economic activity.




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