French press review 2 July 2012
The tragic story of 63 refugees fleeing Libya who died at sea, the battle for the leadership of France's main opposition party, and President François Hollande's popularity ratings are all big subjects in today's French press
"Murder on the high seas" is the dramatic headline in today's communist L'Humanité.
The story dates from March, 2011, when a boatload of 72 mostly Ethiopian migrants left the Libyan city of Tripoli in the hope of reaching the Italian island of Lampedusa. Their inflatable boat ran out of of petrol, and they began a fifteen day drift back to the Libyan coast, with no food, water or shelter. Sixty-three of them died.
What adds to the level of tragedy in this particular story is the fact that the boat was able to send out a distress call, complete with a satelite phone position marker, in an area where there were 38 Nato warships ensuring the naval blockade of the struggling Kadhafi regime.
At least two spotter planes flew over the drifting boat, an army helicopter dropped bottles of water to the survivors, none of the dozens of fishing boats in the area responded to the distress call. Now the organisation Boats 4 People wants to make the Mediterranean a safe sea for everyone, especially those at the mercy of the unscrupulous human trafickers.
At least 1,500 people died or disappeared in the Mediterranean last year alone.
Le Figaro looks at "The battle for the UMP", as the chaps on the right try to reorganise in the wake of recent defeats. This weekend, the former Prime Minister, François Fillon formally announced his intention to run for the job of party leader. He can expect a tough fight from such conservative stalwarts as Alain Juppé and Jean-François Copé.
Left-leaning Libération publishes the results of an opinion poll showing that a majority of French voters are happy about the efforts of President Hollande and his new government, so far. But they have hard budgetary decisions to make between now and the autumn, and Libé wonders just how long that level of popularity will survive.