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French weekly magazines review 31 May 2015

media DR

Did Nicolas Sarkozy change the UMP's name to bury scandals? Raul Castro lobbies President Hollande over US grab of Guantanamo, and flowers for Spain's victorious young Podemos party battling the conservative government's austerity policies. Such are the issues dominating this week's French magazines


L'Obs magazine hails Spain’s indignants, the Podemos insurgents, for their historic performance in last Sunday’s regional elections. The anti-austerity party which came third in 13 of the 17 regions has become a major political actor in the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy, writes the left-leaning magazine. It publishes the language elements driving the party forward: such as “turning human suffering into a political problem”, and slogans often used by Podemos Leader, Pablo Iglesias, in his campaign for a new peoples' sovereignty.

Le Point takes a swipe at the anti-austerity party for vowing to reverse the cuts and privatisations planned by the ruling Popular Party to stabilise the public finances in the recent economic crisis. According to the conservative publication, the musical concerts that greeted their electoral successes in Madrid and Barcelona, have left them dreaming of victories to come at the national level. But Le Point points out that the miracle they dream of is unlikely to happen. Merchants of deception always end up disappointing their followers, it holds.

Yet the journal admits that some indignants do succeed, especially those who make the least noise – the Africans and Sub Saharan Africa, for example set to post 5.4 percent growth this year, according to projections by the African Development Bank, despite the slump in the prices of raw material and supportive sectors.

The silent revolt of the economic upturn left outs is starting to pay off, says le Point. It argues that while there is a sense of urgency to denounce the tragedies in Central Africa, Mali, the Ebola epidemic and the chaos in Burundi, it is justified to praise Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia, whose economies are estimated to grow by between 7.9 and 8; 5 per cent of their GDPs in 2015. This is while Nigeria’s economy is expected to stay at above 5 per cent despite being undermined by the Boko Haram insurgency.

L'Express reviews a new explosive study on France's new darling boy, President Idris Deby Itno of Chad. The "bombshell in the lake" by respected French researcher Roland Marchal decodes in an incisive manner France's leniency with Deby for more than a quarter century.

According to the researcher, the veteran Chadian leader has been able to make personal profit from three currents of the French executive: the cynic/realists, the neo cons and admirers of the geopolitical income he generates.

The author told l'Express that Idris Deby's connections in France coupled with his military partnership in Mali, the Central African Republic and Nigeria spiced the envy of Libya's Moamer Kaddafi and Omar al-Beshir.

Roland Marchal holds that at this moment when deficit in governance is pushing young people into radicalized paths, it is dangerous for Paris to continue backing a regime which has become a caricature of itself.

The researcher says, he has witnessed the confiscation of all the realms of power in the hands of a single family at a dimension similar to the situation in Chad.

There is a series of angry comments in the left-leaning weeklies after 83 percent of members of the right-wing opposition UMP party voted to change the name of the party to Republicans. Ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who now heads the party, describes the move as a rallying call to all who are distressed to see the Republic decline day after day.

Marianne disagrees arguing that he lacks the credibility to carry the name. How can he hijack the spirit of the republic and defy its laws at the same time, writes the magazine. It has in mind his all out war against prosecutors who are investigating his suspected role in a series of political, judicial and financial scandals. According to the journal, his main goal is to re-conquer absolute power.

Le Canard Enchainé satirizes about the judicial ruling which enabled Sarkozy to become president of the Republicans even before he becomes President of the Republic. The publication claims that the rush to “repaint the party with the colours of the Republicans” is motivated by desperation to sweep away the past, notably the Bygmalion affair when the UMP allegedly ordered 10 million euros in fake invoices to hide President Nicolas Sarkozy’s spending.

You probably heard in the news this week that the United States dropped Cuba from its black list of state sponsors of terrorism, in a landmark move toward normalizing ties frozen for half a century. Le Point brings out a painful issue to the Cubans which will probably need some time to repair – the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay which the Americans claim they acquired under a leasing deal in 1903.

According to the right-wing publication, President Francois Hollande raised the issue with his host Raul Castro during his historic visit to Havana last month. And to his surprise, Le Point reports, the Cuban leader pulled out the facsimile of a check worth 4085 dollars which the Americans pay Cuba every year as rents for the 116 square km territory for the past 113 years. That’s since Theodore Roosevelt’s days, notes Le Point. The journal doesn’t say how Hollande reacted but it reports that Fidel and Raul Castro have tried to cash the checks to show their strong opposition to the presence of Americans on Cuban soil.

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