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French press review 9 August 2018


French papers zoom in on African news today. Afro pessimists go singing again as democracy stumbles in Zimbabwe and Mali. And will the DRC find peace now that President Joseph Kabila says he'll step down?

We begin with Le Monde's special report on the political crisis in Zimbabwe, following the disputed 30 July general elections won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's ruling Zanu-PF party.

Mnangagwa was declared president with 55.8 percent of the vote, compared to 44.3 percent of the vote in favour of his main challenger, Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The newspaper says now is the time of punitive measures against officials of the opposition who dared challenge the verdict from the polls, which appear to have dragged the country back to the dictatorship that enabled former president Robert Mugabe to rule Zimbabwe for 37 years.

According to Le Monde, starting the night of 3 August, when Mnangagwa's landslide victory was proclaimed, the country’s police was already deployed in Harare's suburbs and other known MDC bastions, beating up residents in bars and chasing away anyone found in the streets.

The paper reports that the violent scenes that erupted in the capital have shifted to other towns, even though the International Crisis Group expresses a reserved opinion about the MDC’s capacity to repeat the large-scale demonstrations witnessed after the 2008 elections.

The troubled electoral process in Zimbabwe and the disrupted vote in Mali where the central government controls only one-third of the country got some of today’s French publications casting doubt about the promising future observers had forecast for the continent.

According to Le Figaro, there were strong indicators to back the bright future many experts projected for Africa. It cites the unexploited wealth and ethnic diversity of the 54 countries as assets to build on.

But the amnesty granted to Simone Gbagbo by Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara is likely to encourage more gestures of appeasement towards the opposition across Africa, according to the paper.

Le Figaro writes it is becoming increasingly hard for oppression, tribal rivalries, generalised corruption and Islamic fundamentalism to resist the winds of change sweeping across Africa, as young people assert their determination to take charge of their future.

But La Croix welcomes a flicker of hope: the last-minute decision by President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo to leave office after ruling the war-torn country for 17 years.

Kabila should have stepped down at the end of 2016 when he reached a two-term limit. He finally decided to pick a loyalist and former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, one of the Congolese officials sanctioned by the European Union in 2017 for human rights violation, to become his successor.

That was just hours before Wednesday's candidate filing deadline for the December election.

The Catholic daily says Kabila didn't step down on his own and bowed out after intense pressure from the international community.

La Croix expresses hope that his exclusion from the process will clear the way for the most equitable campaign possible and for a free and transparent election.

The newspaper appeals to international stakeholders to provide the critical support the Congolese people need to ensure a peaceful transition in December and start building a new nation in 2019.

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