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French press review 22 September 2015

DR
Text by: William Niba
5 min

German carmaker Volkswagen faces a 16-billion-dollar fine for thwarting US pollution tests. Hard choices face Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after an election win and there's  drama in Burkina Faso as the regular army marches into Ouagadougou to restore  a "state of order".

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The Catholic daily La Croix reports that columns of soldiers loyal to Burkina Faso's transitional government hit the road to the capital after regional leaders failed to reach an acceptable deal between the coup plotters and a coalition of political and civil society leaders.

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According to Libération, there was confusion in the capital overnight about who was really in charge amid reports that officers of the regular army had begun negotiating the surrender of coup leaders.

The paper reports from the Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso’s second largest town the launching pad of last-year’s popular uprising that ended the 27-year rule of President Blaise Compaoré, where people are fuming with rage over the stealing of their revolution.

A member of the Citizens' Broom movement, which led the revolt, described the peace plan that west African mediators took to regional grouping Ecowas as a "vulture’s accord". Another shouted that it was out of question to negotiate with terrorists urging the army to arrest the coup leader General Gilbert Diendéré and his accomplices from the rebel-backed presidential regiment.

Others pointed their anger at French President Francois Hollande over his latest remarks concerning the crisis, the warning he issued to those opposing the dialogue launched by the leaders of Senegal and Benin, one demonstrator advising the French president to be careful with his choice of words.

Libé says that France's ambassador in Ouagadougou tried to play down Hollande’s remarks, saying that it was not an attempt to legalise the action of coup makers.

Both the influential Le Figaro and Le Monde comment about the deep disappointment in the country with the deal secured by the west African mediation mission.

Le Figaro says that the 1,300-strong presidential guard rebels probably knew by midday on Monday what the game was up when Burkinabé army chief of staff General Zagré launched his campaign to “restore the state of order”.

Le Monde says three columns of the army -- the 34th armoured regiment from eastern Fada N’Gourma, the US-trained paras from Bobodioulasso and Dedou in the west, joined by commandos from Ouahigouya in the north, converged on the capital after the general’s orders.

For Le Monde, the concessions made to the coup makers are widely considered as unacceptable. It sat down with Guy-Hervé Kam, spokesperson for the “Citizens’ Broom” coalition. He blasts the deal as “shameful and a complete cave-in to all the demands of the rebels”.

left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras’ emphatic victory in Sunday’s snap elections in Greece is subjected to renewed scrutiny. His margin for manoeuvre remains as tight as ever, comments Le Figaro, insisting that his main challenge remains settling Greece’s colossal debt, which i now up to 300 million euros.

The Greek premier has become the totem of the French left, writes Libération. According to the newspaper, everyone from the Left Front to the Socialist Party is trying to appropriate Syriza’s triumph to justify their respective policies.

Le Monde earned a stinging rebuke from L’Humanité for describing the verdict from the polls as a “validation of Tsipras’ political reforms and austerity policies.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

“A bit of amnesia by our colleagues,” fumed the Communist Party daily. It reminds Le Monde that it was not Tsipras but the Eurogroup and the Troika who placed the pistol of austerity to Greece’s head

The papers zoom in on the Volkswagen scandal, as investigations spread into revelations that hundreds of thousands of its diesel cars produced by the German auto giant as have software that secretly thwarts US pollution tests.

According to the US authorities, VW admitted that it had equipped about 482,000 cars in the US with sophisticated software that covertly turns off pollution controls when the car is being driven and turns them on only when it detects that the car is undergoing an emissions test.

With the "defeat device" deactivated, the car can spew pollutant gases into the air, including nitrogen oxide in amounts as much as 40 per cent higher than emissions standards, said the US Environmental Protection Agency.

La Croix reports that the discovery of the cheating device left German papers talking about a “black Monday” and a “day of horror” for the economy.

As the world's largest automaker announced plans on Monday to halt sales in the United States, Le Figaro says the move comes too late. Volkswagen is facing a fine of up to 16 billion euros. The conservative daily says the company is currently in great danger, with shares, plunging by 17 per cent in the Frankfurt markets.

Le Figaro pays a rare tribute to Yannick Noah, the legendary winner of the 1983 Roland Garros tournament turned pop star. He has been picked for the second time to captain the French Davis Cup team. For the paper, Noah belongs to the crop of emblematic personalities who incarnate the winning years of French sport. 

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