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French press review 22 November 2017


Angela Merkel's coalition woes. Judgement Day for the so-called Butcher of Bosnia and a relatively small helpings of Robert Mugabe in today's French newspapers.

If - like many Zimbabweans - you've had a belly full of Robert Mugabe - you could do worse than browse some of the front pages of today's French newspapers.

There's scarcely a dickey-bird about the old man's exit stage left - probably because the paper were put to bed before his resignation letter was read out in Parliament in Harare yesterday afternoon.

Among its front-pages teasers for stories inside the paper - right-wing le Figaro offers "the last waltz hesitation of Mugabe - Page 6."

No doubt they'll play catch-up tomorrow.

Le Figaro's top story is closer to home - Tormented Merkel fights for her political survival - is the headline over a photo of a grim and exhausted German Chancellor Angela Merkel - slumped in the back-seat of a limo after the collapse of weeks of negotiations to put together a new coalition government.

Merkel's reported preference is for a re-run of Federal Elections.

Le Figaro thinks that - if there's a new election - nothing suggests that the results will be different from those delivered in September.

Merkel has lost her close link to electors the paper says. But whatever her weakness - she benefits from the weakness of others.

According to opinion polls - two coalitions are possible - both of them built around Angela Merkel.

So - off with that misery face - Angela - look on the bright side.


Left-leaning Libération gives pride on place to the man it calls - the last Butcher.

That's Ratco Mladic - the Serb military leader during the conflict in Bosnia - who is on trial of the International Criminal Court in the Hague accused of crimes against Humanity.

A grainy black and white photo of Mladic takes up much of the paper's front page - and he certainly look like a tough customer.

He's in the Spotlight because the ICC is due to deliver its verdict today.

Mladic - who remains a hero to many in Serbia - has denied 11 counts including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the 1992-1995 war that killed 100,000 and displaced 2.2 million as ethnic rivalries tore Yugoslavia apart.

The prosecution says Nothing less than a life sentence "will be acceptable to us,"

His defence says the 73 year old is in poor health and - anyway - his trial is "political."

Inside - as is its wont - Libé has four densely packed pages on the conflict in Bosnia.

Shocking stuff - that Libé rightly thinks shouldn't be forgotten.


At the same time - Libé is more up to speed on events in Zimbabwe than some of the competition.

Beside the quote Butcher of Bosnia unquote - pictured in vivid technicolour -is Bob Mugabe with the headline - the Fall of a Despot.

Inside - the paper explains at length how the "father of independence" became an unbreakable despot.

To hold onto power, the former president of Zimbabwe gradually descended into all the excesses. And thus erased the image of the pan-African leader he had created.

As one long dead British Parliamentarian observed - all political careers end in failure.


The print edition of the centrist paper Le Monde devotes its editorial to what it calls "Such a long wait in Zimbabwe - but its front page headlines domestic politics, probable changes to university entrance, what it called "Year Zero" in the devastated Syrian City Raqqa, and Angela Merkel on the ropes.

Penned before Mugabe's resignation - the editorial says "Apart from his great age and a distant aura of anti colonialism, there is nothing to justify the respect shown by the leaders of the army and the party towards the 93-year-old old man they are deposing.

"The dances of joy that broke out at the ZANU-PF Central Committee, the ruling party, when Mugabe's expulsion from the party was declared on Sunday, should not deceive anyone - it was its members who supported and benefited from the dictatorial system for so many years."

It may be party time in Zimbabwe. But the French press doubt that it's warranted.

The suggestion is that after the giddy euphoria there's a massive hang-over and an all too familiar political landscape in waiting.

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