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French press review 28 October 2015


Franco-German summit delivers a package for young Franco-German entrepreneurs working on the digital transformation of Europe; Alassane Ouattara to face a divided country despite his landslide victory in the Ivorian elections. Congo Brazzaville in at a standstill after referendum granting veteran Denis Sassou Nguesso a right to seek re-election after 30 years in office; And the flight of the French "Air Cocaine" pilots sentenced to 20 years in the Dominican Republic.


We start with the surprise delivery of a new Franco-German initiative to promote European start-ups specializing on the digital transformation of Europe.

Le Monde reports that the deal was struck during Tuesday’s digital conference held at the Elysée in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker. According to the evening paper, two accords were signed, one opening a credit line at the European Investment Bank to support digital-related businesses by young French and German entrepreneurs.

Le Monde is impressed by the enthusiasm the initiative has generated in the corporate sector, as the CEOs of multinationals such as Siemens, Publicis, Orange, are due to unveil a 500 million-euro fund of their own titled Iris Next to promote youth investments, with credit establishments such as BPI France and Germany’s KFW also expressing an interest in investing in the project.

The five-point plan aims at relieving young investors of the restrictions they are likely to encounter from the regulatory mechanisms in place in the EU’s 28 countries, at a time when the United States and China enjoy a duopoly of the digital market.

Hence Le Figaro’s conviction that the goal sought by Merkel and Hollande is to facilitate the emergence of European start-ups capable of competing with digital companies based in Silicon Valley.

Le Figaro predicted the just-announced re-election Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara for a new 5-year term of office and clearly expected him to seal the election in the first round and with a wide margin due to the weakened and divided opposition that ran against him.

Ouattara finally claimed 82 percent of the ballots cast, according to the figures released by the country’s elections commission, but the conservative newspaper quotes an independent Ivorian platform as saying that participation stood at 52 percent. A diplomat based in Abidjan told Le Figaro that he expected the losing candidates to use the turnout to shroud Ouattara’s re-election in controversy. But as he put, he didn’t expect the charges to last.

Analyst Rodrigué Kone argues that whether voter turnout was high or low, the imperative of reconciling the country after the bloody civil war remains to be done. It was the major failure of Ouattara’s first term says the Ivorian political scientist.

Drissa Traoré, Vice President of the International Federation of Human Rights lays the blame on Charles Konan Banny, the “arrogant close associate to President Ouattara chosen to chair the truth and reconciliation commission who still hasn’t submitted his report after secretive investigations.

Traoré also says that the judiciary which has tried the allies of ousted President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone, while sparing Ouattara, has reinforced the impression that Ouattara’s presidency has been nothing more than a winner’s justice and a partial reading of Ivorian history.

Le Figaro also comments on the situation in Congo-Brazzaville where opposition leaders have called a "civil disobedience" campaign after the crushing and surprising victory of the "yes" camp in Sunday’s referendum on amending the constitution to enable President Denis Sassou-Nguesso to extend his three-decade rule.

Le Figaro reports that opposition officials are scandalized by the results announced by the elections commission which claimed that 92 percent of voters said “Yes” while participation stood at 72 percent. At least ten people were killed during clashes between anti-Sassou demonstrators and security forces. The government has banned all protests in the capital, opposition leaders held under house arrest, internet services cut off and RFI’s broadcasts to Congo was switched off.

As the crisis in Brazzaville worsens William Bourdon a member of the Sherpa association told Libération that the “kleptomaniac” would be in prison, if the International Criminal Court had been created 20 years ago.

In its build-up to the COP 21 Climate Summit in Paris in December, La Croix dedicates today’s special column on the chronic traffic jams in Nigeria’s economic capital Lagos.

According to the Catholic daily, the city now has a population of 20 million, with 250,000 circulating there every day and 60 percent compelled to use three saturated bridges everyday to go to work.

In the article, entitled “tomorrow’s planet: time for solutions”, La Croix reports that the city’s authorities have launched the construction of a subway they hope will convince 20,000 motorists to give up their cars.

The first section of the metropolitan service is set to be ready for use in 2017 with a capacity of ferrying 400,000 passengers every day, according to the Catholic newspaper.

Libération tells it all about the "great escape” of the French “Air Cocaine” pilots from the Dominican Republic on Saturday in an operation worthy of a James Bond movie.

Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos, both decorated but retired air force pilots, were under house arrest on the island after being sentenced to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking. Fauret and Odos were arrested after Dominican police discovered 680 kgs of cocaine on board their Falcon 50 jet.

The paper wonders how they managed to escaped under the very nose of the Dominican judges who had been due to rule on their appeal of the sentence. The two have placed themselves at the disposal of the French judiciary. French prosecutor Mathieu Bonduelle tells Libé the two may be off the hook, as France by principle never extradites its citizens. This was after the Dominican Republic announced plans to issue an international arrest warrant against the pilots.

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