French press review 30 December 2015


French press watches high-risk elections in the Central African Republic; the constitutionality of stripping terrorists of their dual nationality; American doctor denounces the fallacy of prison authorities who falsified medical report of famous inmate on death row; And huge security build-up for hectic French New Year's Eve.


We start with Le Monde's special coverage of today's landmark Presidential and Legislative elections in the Central African Republic.

The paper says the poll gets underway after three years of civil war which has paralyzed not just the administration but the growth of what used to be a mineral rich country on the strength of rich reserves of uranium, diamonds, gold, timber, coffee, cotton and tobacco.

Le Monde reports that close to 70 percent of the CAR's 4.8 million inhabitants live below the poverty line today with the average annual income estimated at 300 euros, according to the latest statistics published by the World Bank.

It has a profile of the three top contenders in a field of 30 candidates, former Prime Ministers: Martin Ziguele and Anicet Dologuélé as well as long-time cabinet minister Karim Meckassoua.

For the Centre-right paper, while the two ex-premiers will seek to play down "their affiliation with the failed regimes that led the country into this mess", it remains to be seen how Moslem Meckassoua intends to "transcend the violence that crystalized in hatred of the Moslem community due to the war crimes and looting perpetrated by the predominantly Moslem Seleka rebellion during and after their overthrow" by French-and African forces.

France is watching the election very closely praying that the Central African Republic will at last emerge from the chaos, according to Le Figaro.

The right-wing publication says it doubts that France, which had intervened 7 times in the former colony since its independence in 1960 and which at the peak of the crisis had 2000 men deployed in Bangui, can continue to afford the resources needed to keep it's 900-strong force in the CAR capital if the process fails to deliver the peace everyone yearns for.

Le Monde also revisits the angry debate blowing in France about stripping dual citizens found guilty of acts of terrorism on French soil, of their citizenship.

This is after Prime Minister Manuel Valls put up an uncompromising message on his Facebook page reiterating his determination to press ahead with the proposed constitutional reform, despite a cream of Socialist dignitaries screaming out against the reform.

According to the paper, some Leftists lawmakers have even vowed to stage a revolt unwitnessed before against the Socialist government when the draft constitutional bill is tabled for debate in Parliament.

The Catholic daily La Croix observes that despite the violent storm blowing, the indignants accusing prime Minister Manuel Valls of "Petainism", violating the provisions of the constitution relating to the equality of all before the law, betraying the values of the Republic such as the law of the soil and of offering a third round victory in the recent regional elections to the National Front, need to know that the stripping of nationality already exists in French law.

It argues that it is already being applied in general quasi indifference against people with less than 15 years of French citizenship found guilty of terrorism. The paper says it can't afford to remain quiet on this debate about the use of big words.

Jihadism, it says seeks to destroy the values of liberty, equality and fraternity which the Republic is all about, which is why, from its point of view, it is only through the constitution that such values can be protected from terrorists determined to cause the downfall of the Republic.

L'Humanité raises the shocking case of African American journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is being denied treatment for hepatitis as he spends his 30th year death row.

According to the Communist party daily, Abu-Jamal's doctor testified before a Pennsylvania court that authorities at the Frackville prison where he has been held since 1982, falsified his medical report to prevent him from getting treated, having failed to make their case to have him executed.

L'Humanité, reports that it was thanks to a campaign waged by the paper's Director and MEP Patrick Le Hyaric with the support of the French Committee to free Mumia, which garnered the signatures of a hundred French and European lawmakers that the case was able to be convened.

The Communist party newspaper hails the vast international solidarity movement for standing up against forces like the judge who at the time of Mumia's trial vowed to "help fry the nigger".

And Le Figaro releases details of the massive security operation being prepared around France as the country gears up to celebrate New Year's Eve.

An estimated 60,000 military personnel and policemen will be on maximum alert throughout the night says the paper to guard against further attacks similar to the November 13 attacks in Paris.

Traditional hectic festivities at the Champs Elysées Avenue which had been on the verge of being cancelled have been maintained, including the screening of a colorful "mapping video" on both sides of the "Arc de Triumph", according to Le Figaro.

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