French weekly magazines review 4 February 2018

African tycoon Baba Danpullo warns quick-wealth hunters there is nothing to die for in Europe. And can longer French paternity leave bridge the yawning gap of gender parity?


We start with a bombshell revelation that is likely to reopen the wounds of the Rwandan genocide. This concerns claims by the anti-hunger and graft NGO Survie that the notorious French mercenary Bob Denard who staged several coup d'Etats in Africa came to the assistance of the Hutu-led regime in Kigali that committed the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

Close to a million predominantly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered during the 90-day killing spree.

Le Canard Enchaîné which carries the findings of the report says Denard's implication in the genocide goes beyond historical curiosity and provides new evidence of the complicities of some French officials who were accused of complacency towards the authorities in Kigali at the time.

The smoking gun presented by the satirical weekly is a letter written on September 13, 1994,  by the then Rwanda's defence minister addressed to Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, mentioning an assistance mission the government had handed to a certain “Martin and co”.

The weekly also refers to a receipt Survie laid hands on signed on July 5, 1994 by a certain Robert Bernard Martin confirming the reception of money amounting to over one million French Francs from the Rwandan Embassy in France.

Le Canard claims that forged passports and driving licenses issued by Rwandan officials to the alleged Monsieur Martin and his lieutenants had been found, while some people testified that the so-called Martin was indeed Robert Bernard "Bob" Denard.

Le Canard also recalls for the record that in 1995 the long-time crony of then FrançAfrique strongman Jacques Foccart never fell out of the radar screens of the French DGSE intelligence service.

The weekly quotes Michel Roussin, France's Cooperation Minister in 1994 and 1995 as saying that Denard acted with the tacit consent of the government. The paper says the rules of the mercenaries’ engagement were quote "you are no covered, bonne chance".

Africa is a hot issue of debate in Le Point this week, the magazine exploring in its cover page story its achievements, and challenges as Afro-pessimists and optimists continue their useless quarrel.

According to the conservative publication despite the widespread ignorance of auto-centric and navel-gazing Europeans, the dynamism of the African economy and its demographic explosion remain one of the best hopes of the global economy, notwithstanding persisting questions about poverty, famine and migration.

For Le Point in this continent with a population of 1.2 billion inhabitants in 2017 (projected to double by 2050), migrations from and to Africa remains a great opportunity for wealth creation and investment for all.

Going by figures published in this week's issue, Africa is the destination of 41 percent of direct foreign investments, 28 percent of all international aid and 29.7 percent of money transfers by migrants.

Le Point upholds the view that a total blockade of immigration is an illusion, despite the mounting risk of witnessing the rise of xenophobic parties on both sides of the Mediterranean.

Le Point sat down with Baba Danpullo, one of the richest businessmen in French-speaking Africa. The Cameroonian-born industrialist, who owns an empire worth 830 million euros, describes Africa as the lifeline for other continents. In the interview, he urges young Africans to "believe in their continent" and stop rushing to the North in search of "quick wealth" which those countries can't even afford for their own children.

And talking about children, the French New Observer l'Obs takes up the question about rendering paternity leave compulsory in France.

According to the magazine if fathers were given as much time off as their wives  to take care of their babies, it could be one of the keys to attaining gender parity at work places. The New Observer presents the rather generous model operating in Iceland.

The tiny Scandinavian country, with a population of 320,000 inhabitants reportedly grants parents nine months of paternal leave at the birth or adoption of a baby and the possibility of taking the days off, at their convenience, during the child's first 18 month.

This week's l'Express investigates a controversial crackdown on so-called “radicalized” elements in the ranks of French police and the Gendarmerie. The paper reports that so far only a few dozen Islamists have so far been been placed under surveillance out of the 150,000-strong police force, some 120,000 Gendarmes.

The weekly says it is able to report that some of the suspects attracted attention by violating regulations forbidding prayers in the office while others were blacklisted for refusing to observe minutes of silence. 

A top police official told l'Express it is far below reality to describe the suspects as simple individuals with Islamist sympathies. The right-wing weekly says the problem is so serious that the government is soon to unveil new legislation prescribing appropriate sanctions including possible dismissal for constables violating the rules.

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