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French press review 26 October 2015


Côte d'Ivoire's Alassane Ouattara is poised for re-election as divided voters yearn for peace; Congo's long-serving leader shuts country down in stand off over third term; France marks 10 years of suburban riots with tensions as high as ever in neighbourhoods, and French Socialists face dilemma as regional elections' defeat looms. 


There are two African countries making news in today’s French papers Côte d’Ivoire on the strength of yesterday’s presidential elections and the referendum in Congo Brazzaville on Sassou Nguesso's plans to seek a third term denied by the constitution.

Le Monde reports that the incumbent Alassane Ouattara is widely expected to be re-elected in the first round as he stood against a divided opposition. According to the paper, although the people of the West African country are eager to turn the page of the 2011 civil war in which 3000 lives were lost the logic of clans still persists – fanned by more than 20 years of infighting among the heirs of Côte d’Ivoire’s independence leader Felix Houphouet Boigny.

Le Monde also takes up the crisis in Congo Brazzaville where voters went to the polls on Sunday to decide on a constitutional change to enable one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, to seek a third term.

Opposition groups had called for a boycott of the referendum, on allowing the 71-year-old president to extend his 31-year grip on power which they described as "a constitutional coup d'etat".

The run-up to the referendum was rocked by protests, including clashes last Tuesday between opposition demonstrators and security forces in Brazzaville and the economic capital Pointe-Noire in which opposition leader Paul-Marie Mpouele claimed at least 20 people had died.

Le Monde reports that the government staged a demonstration of force in the streets of Brazzaville on Sunday, as the only vehicles allowed to circulate were those of security forces and people with special police permits.

Meanwhile in France, It’s been ten years since the death of two boys in the Parisian suburb of Clichy sous Bois sparked unprecedented rioting in the sensitive French townships. Le Figaro marks the grim anniversary with a deep look at life in the suburbs where crime, poverty, unemployment and school failures are just as endemic as radicalization.

It’s the result of 40 years of failed policies, mismanagement and demagogy, rules the conservative publication. Le Figaro’s ranting come as President Francois Hollande embarked on a series of high profile visits to some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country. It doesn’t suffice to inject billions and to hatch new plans to buy social peace.

The conservative publication argues that squandering of resources and demagogy are to blame for over bidding and rising clamour for more government subsidies rising in the slums and ghettos.

Ten years after the riots, Libération caught up with the bloggers of Bondy, one of the neighbourhoods where some of the worst violence was recorded in 2005. Bondy Blog, viewed with condescendence by some in the media establishment, was the mouth piece of the down trodden.

Libé consecrates today’s front page dossier on the bloggers’ reflections on the failures of the French education system and how it has disoriented children of the neighbourhoods.

The special carries an open letter by the likes of Tennis and popstar Yannick Noah, movie star Omar Sy, and football legend Zinedine Zidane titled “what France owes its suburban towns". They are urging France to transform the anger and sometimes violent criticism into a plan of action capable of jump-starting a collective adventure.

Le Parisien caught up with the Air France Human Resources manager who was the target of the violent scenes on October 5, when hundreds of workers stormed a board meeting. This was after he announced a redundancy plan shedding 2.900 jobs.

Pictures of Xavier Broseta scaling a fence, his shirt partially ripped off to escape being lynched, made front pages around the world. He speaks to the paper about the terrible ordeal and what he thinks about his job.

The Socialist party is facing a dilemma six weeks away from regional elections, according to Le Monde. They have to choose between a rock and a hard place, says the paper -- help get the conservative Les Republicains elected in some of its staunchest bastions or facilitate the emergence of the National Front.

Three scenarios are on the ruling party’s table: maintaining their lists which could facilitate the National Front’s electoral performance, pul lout from the ballot thereby excluding its officials from any role in regional politics for the next six years, or team up with the Republicains from a position of weakness and on their terms.

Le Monde speaks to Socialist dignitaries in the left-leaning bastions such as the Nord-Pas-Calais-Picardie and PACA regions which is widely tipped to fall into the hands of Marine Le Pen’s far-right and nationalist "Bleu Marine" rally.

According to the paper, ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservatives are however considering a gesture to the left-leaning socialists and their allies in the second round after abortive attempts to woo disenfranchised voters from the National Front and the leftist parties.

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