French press review 7 November 2015

Text by: William Niba
7 min

Ebola-free Sierra Leone not off the hook as trauma lives on; France orders major border controls for COP 21 summit, but experts warn of encroachments on Schengen treaty; And Aung San Suu Kyi's hour of glory as Myanmar votes in first free election in 25 years.


We start with some happy news for the people of Sierra Leone, making headlines in the French press this Saturday. Revelations by Le Monde that the World Health Organization is about to declare the country Ebola free.

The evening newspaper dispatched a correspondent to Freetown to find out how the West African nation is emerging from the trauma.

Up to 11,300 people died from the epidemic broke out across West Africa, 4,800 in Liberia already declared Ebola free since the 3rd of September, close to 4000 in Sierra Leone and 2500 in Guinea.

Le Monde reports that Sierra Leone registered the highest number of infections: 14,000, almost half of 28571 cases declared in the three countries. This, according to the evening paper is why the people of the country while preparing to sing bye-bye to Ebola remain cautious.

More so as Le Monde’s correspondent reports that the discovery of traces of the virus in the eyeball and sperms of former patients has sparked a new wave of stigmatization of survivors as the authorities are struggling to restore a work spirit in the ravaged economy.

Le Parisien’s front page spread is about France’s plans to restore border checks as a security measure for the COP 21 UN climate summit starting at the end of this month. According to the newspaper, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve explained on Friday that the operation to be mounted at all road, rail, sea and air borders would start from November 13 to December 13.

The paper reports that France’s decision to suspend Europe's cherished Schengen treaty on free border passage is clearly motivated by heightened risks of terrorism and public disturbances during the conference.

US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are among more than 80 world leaders attending the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held at Le Bourget just outside Paris.

Le Parisien notes that the French government’s decision is unlikely to come under any criticism from its 22 Eurozone partners which are buckling under the pressure of the worst migrant crisis since World War II.

The flow of migrants has seen several Schengen states restore border controls, such as Germany, while Austria is planning to erect a fence with Slovenia to keep the refugees out. The paper quoted Monsieur Cazeneuve as also recalling that similar border closures were ordered during climate conferences in Denmark in 2009 and Poland in 2013.

Le Monde published a fervent appeal by founding European Commission President Jacques Delors for the safeguard of the Schengen treaty, as more and more nations cite exceptional circumstances as an excuse to violate the cherished border-free passage accord.

According to Le Monde, Delors is urging EU leaders to find a collective response to the refugee crisis, as winds of panic sweep through Europe where populists see the migrants as a threat to their culture.

Monsieur Delors wrote the article after Brussels announcement on Thursday that it expected three million migrants to cross into Europe between January 2015 and the end of 2017. Le Monde warns that the mechanism negotiated in the summer by EU leaders to share 160,000 refugees would need to be revised very quickly.

"The time for change has come", hoots Liberation as it looks foward to the victory of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in Sunday's general elections in Myanmar. It's the first free election to be held in the country in 25 years.

The paper predicts a win for the 70 year-old opposition leader who spent 15 years under house arrest by the country’s junta. According to Le Figaro, her party’s victory in the 1990 elections were never recognized. It expresses hope that she will revail this time so she can inflict befitting revenge for the daughter of Myanmar’s independence.

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