French press review 19 November 2016

How about a French press review which makes no mention (beyond this introduction) of either Donald Trump or tomorrow's first round in the right-wing primary to select a presidential candidate?


Le Monde's Africa pages report that Charles Ndagijimana, former president of Burundi's Constitutional Court, is now president of the board of the local branch of the multinational Heineken Brewery.

The reason that fact is interesting is that Ndagijimana was appointed to the Heineken board by presidential decree just three weeks after the Constitutional Court over which he presided authorised Pierre Nkurunziza to stand for a third term.

Burundi's constitution limits to two the number of successive mandates any president can serve.

Two months after Nkurunziza's controversial reelection, the same judge was promoted to the top job on the Heineken board, again by a decree signed by Pierre Nkurunziza.

Stef Vandeginste, a Burundi specialist at the University of Antwerp tells Le Monde that this sequence of events suggests that Ndagijimana's cooperation was encouraged with the first appointment and paid for with the second. He earns at least 20,000 euros per year as the head of the brewing operation.

Since the beginning of the Burundi crisis sparked by Nkurunziza's decision to stand for a third term, rights groups have reported at least 1,000 deaths, 6,000 imprisonments and 20,000 disappearances. The United Nations says there are at least a quarter of a million Burundian refugees, forced from their homes by the fighting.

Man unjustly put under house arrest claims compensation

Le Figaro looks at the recently extended state of emergency regulations, under which persons suspected of being linked to radical Islam can be put under house arrest.

One man, who was mistakenly suspected by the police and confined to his home for four weeks before being freed by the State Council, is now asking for compensation for the loss of business turnover, which he estimates at 60 percent.

The man, who runs a motor repair business, was one of over 350 suspects placed under house arrest immediately following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis. He is the only one to claim compensation.

House arrest obliges suspects to appear at their local police station three times every day. They can not leave their local authority area without official permission and must remain at home between the hours of 9.30pm and 7.30am.

He has already been paid the 1,500 euros normally awarded to victims of false arrest. He is demanding compensation running to tens of thousands.

If you're gay in Côte d'Ivoire, keep quiet about it

Libération reports from Côte d'Ivoire where two men were earlier this month sentenced to three months in jail for being homosexual. The left-leaning French daily says it is the first time a 20-year-old law has been imposed in the west African country, frequently seen as progressive and a haven for those fleeing anti-gay legislation in neighbouring states.

The International Human Rights Federation has condemned the convictions as a terrible step backwards, and as dangerous since this court decision establishes a precedent for other cases.

The sentences are particularly surprising, says Libé, since there have been recent moves to have the statute outlawing homosexuality removed from the Ivorian code of criminal law.

Gay rights campaigners say the situation of homosexuals has deteriorated in recent years in Côte d'Ivoire, especially in the wake of the French decision to allow marriage for all. Christian churches and the Muslim community are said to spearhead the local anti-gay movement.

There have been dozens of attacks targeting members of the homosexual community. The premises of Alternative, the non-governmental organisation defending the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, have been vandalised. Bars frequented by gays are regularly attacked.

One gay man in Abidjan says the only way to survive is to stay out of view. There is a fear that this latest court decision will further encourage those who are violently anti-homosexual.

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