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French press review 2 November 2018

France watches with mixed feelings as New Caledonia votes in a referendum on self rule. Halloween offers hate mongers a field day on social media. And French car users brace for a crippling diesel strike on November 17.


The papers have their eyes glued on the Pacific Ocean, overseas territory of New Caledonia which votes in a self-determination referendum on Sunday. 

Just 48 hours to the landmark vote, Sud-Ouest, launches a fervent  appeal  to the archipelago's 269,000 inhabitants who already enjoy some degree of autonomy under a 1998 accord, to opt for a third option of shared sovereignty, instead of a radical break from the "fatherly" colonial links with Paris, they have been subjected to.

That's the stake of Sunday's referendum it explains adding that the popular vote is the fruit of the 1998 accord signed in the capital Nouméa 10 years after the dramatic Ouvéa cave hostage taking in 1988.

During the incidents, Kanak nationalists and Liberation Front rebels, assassinated 4 gendarmes and took 27 hostage, together with a public prosecutor and seven members of the French GIGN military unit to press demands for independence talks with Paris.

For Ouest France on the night of November 4, stakeholders will have to refrain from paying too much attention to who won and who lost and focus on what has to be done to give the Kanak people a brighter future under the new dispensation.

France must succeed in the process of decolonizing the island, it warns, in order to avoid a disillusion and violence which are the worst things the inhabitants of the Island can expect.

Libération calls on President Emmanuel Macron to use the referendum as a stepping stone to consolidate multi-culturalism and peace in New Caledonia and complete the project started by late Prime Minister Michel Rocard.

L'Humanité observes that while Kanaky-New Caledonia has an appointment with history, on Sunday French citizens on the mainland will be watching with indifference forgetting that the process is the culmination of 165 years of a long and painful French colonial rule of the island which Paris refused to end after the Algerian war of independence.


Some publications voice their outrage at the upsurge in racist, xenophobic and homophobic messages posted on social media during Wednesday's Halloween night in France which led to the arrest and detention of close to one hundred people, according to Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

Le Parisien reports that in one of the messages that went viral on the web, a 19-year urged internet users to "flush out the cops". The paper says he is due to go on trial later this month on charges of incitement of a crime uncommitted.

According to Midi Libre social media which is so useful to controlling traffic and organizing drinks has unfortunately become a weapon for hate mongers who jump on their smart phones to manipulate fragile youths and persons in difficulty.

For le Courrier Picard, the great purge of policemen called for by the young delinquent never took place, despite claims by Nice-matin that 75 youths who shared the masked message in masked Snapchat and WhatsApp were arrested.

According to L'Union et L'Ardennais it should be clear in the minds of the French people that the provocations posted on social media are not intended to last for just the Halloween night, but the declared intention by delinquents to disrupt the peaceful lives of citizens and defy the Republican order.


The growing protest by car users opposed to the government's anti-diesel program also makes the front pages. This is as diesel prices rose to 1.53 euros per litre, an increase of 23 percent in a single year

L'Est Républicain says the “gilets jaunes” or High Visibility Vests movement is on the move and nowhere close to slamming on the breaks, as activist around the country multiplying online petitions calling for road block protests on November 17.

The regional paper says that while it is hard to evaluate the impact of the movement, which has mushroomed from nothing, the government needs to take them seriously.

According to La Nouvelle République, anger is boiling with tempers flaring adding that with gun powder all over the place, all the protest professionals need is a lighter.

The newspaper points to a new Odoxa-Dentsu Consulting survey showing that 78% of the French believe they have been taken hostage by the Macron government's fuel price hikes.

Up to 8 out of 10 surveyed citizens say they are ready to block roads on November 17, according to La Nouvelle République.


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