French press review 14 July 2010

As you are all well aware, today is 14 July. For the French this means a day off in celebration of the fall of what they euphmanistically call the 'Old Regime'. Journalists from la Croix (the Catholics), l'Humanité (the communists) and Les Echos (the ficancial boffins) have all got the day off, leaving us with just Libération on the left and le Figaro on the right.


The lead story on both papers is the continuing saga surrounding the work and pensions minister Eric Woerth.

Both papers are reporting that Woerth yesterday gave up his post of treasurer of the ruling UMP party.

Libération continues to question the conflict of interest between Woerth's job of government minister and UMP tresurer.

It also looks into allegations that Woerth's wife had applied for jobs in the swiss arms of French banks while her husband was budget minister and chasing tax evaders, another possible conflict of interest.

These are allegations that Mrs. Woerth denies.

Meanwhile, government-friendly le Figaro carries an interview with Woerth, and highlights that he leaves his job with a clean record, having been let off by the finance ministry's internal investigation.

Now, the big event here on the glorious 14th is the traditional military parade down the Champs-Elysées showing off the might of the Republic's finest.

This year, Presisdent Sarkozy has invited thirteen African nations to march alongside the French, not in celebration of the 50th anniversary of independence, but "to celebrate the strength of the ties that history has weaved between us".

This has caused somewhat of a fuss in human rights circles. Libération reports that various NGOs have complained that among the 13 ex-French colonies invited, there may be soldiers that took part in brutal repressions.

Some 500 political opponents were killed by the armed forces of Congo Brazzaville in the 1990s, as was the case after 2005 elections in Togo. And 100 were killed in Cameroon in 2008 after food shortage riots in 2008.

The Elysée Palace has been quick to point out that none of the participants are currently under investigation for anything illegal.

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