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French press review 14 January 2017

It's going to get very cold in France next week and the national electricity supplier is warning that there may not be enough juice for everyone at times of peak demand. How will history judge François Hollande's three African wars - in Mali, the CAR and Libya? And why was last Wednesday so remarkable in the central American country of El Salvador?


Le Figaro is warning that France could face a power crisis from next Tuesday. We're talking electricity, not politics.

With temperatures set to plummet early next week, the authority responsable for the distribution of juice says it may be obliged to launch some of the emergency measures put in place to deal with a huge surge in demand.

Comsumers will be asked to switch off lighting and heaters in unoccupied rooms. If that doesn't do the trick, major industrial users could find themselves subject to brief power cuts, especially around the morning and early evening demand peaks. If the worst comes to the worst, the national level of electricity supplies could have to be reduced by five percent for everyone.

Says Le Figaro, the crisis situation draws attention to one negative aspect of the greening of French power supplies. The nation's wind farms are producing diddly at the moment and the solar parks even less.

Who won François Hollande's three African wars?

As French president François Hollande visits Bamako this weekend for the 27th Franco-African summit, left-leaning daily Libération looks at what the paper calls the French leader's three African wars.

The campaigns in the vast Sahel region south of the Sahara, in the Central African Republic and in Libya have been marked by a number of military successes and marred by a number of strategic failures, according to Libé.

The outgoing president will, at the very least, face accusations of undue interference in the affairs of other sovereign states. At worst, he may be remembered as the man who relaunched the spectre of France's African holdings, the often dubious post-colonial links between Paris and insecure national governments.

The operation, originally called Serval and renamed Barkhane in 2014, with more than 4,000 French soldiers on duty in Mali, Niger and Chad, is the largest overseas action undertaken by the French armed forces since the end of the Algerian war.

One analyst questioned by Libération says the criticism is unfair to Hollande who, in sending troops to Mali, was responding to a call for help from a government without the military muscle to cope on its own. But this was against the background of the regional spread of Islamist violence, not an effort by Paris to send in the army to prop up a struggling regime.

Other experts, more critical of the French action, say the global war against terror has been too often claimed as justification for military and other excesses. We are reminded by one such critic that UN resolution 2085 called for an international force under African command in Mali, not an exclusively French expedition.

El Salvador celebrates first day without murder in two years

Last Wednesday, 11 January, was an important day in the central American nation of El Salvador. For the first time in two years, says Le Monde, no one was murdered in the country in the course of 24 hours.

Last year El Salvador earned the tragic title of most murderous place on earth, with 5,278 homicides for its six million inhabitants, and that was already a 20 percent improvement on the horrors of 2015.

If Wednesday was a calm day, Thursday saw a tragic return to normal with the deaths of 13 gang members in clashes with police, a woman murdered outside her shop because her nephew is a policeman, and an off-duty officer shot in the street.

Bad as that resumption of violence sounds, it is close to the modest government aim of getting El Salvador's daily murder statistics down to a single figure.

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