Article published the Saturday 24 November 2012 - Latest update : Saturday 24 November 2012

French press review 24 November 2012

By William Niba

The front pages are once again dominated by the electoral crisis within France’s main opposition UMP party.

The papers unanimously believe that the mediation of the UMP by party co-founder, Alain Juppé, is doomed even before his planned meetings this weekend with the self-acclaimed winner Jean Francois Copé and ex-Prime Minister François Fillon.

"UMP: Juppé mediation in peril,” headlines Le Figaro; “UMP: mission almost impossible for last-minute mediator,” says Aujourd’hui en France; and “Schism: mafia against turpitude,” according to Libération. Libération maintains that the Fillon-Copé divorce is inevitable and the end of the UMP very likely.

Le Monde claims that while Monsieur Juppé has managed to negotiate a ceasefire between Copé and Fillon, the conflict for the UMP presidency is benefiting the “non-aligned dignitaries”: those who didn’t take sides in the dispute.

For Le Monde, the stalemate has handed former President Nicolas Sarkozy an opportunity to remain in contention. This is after he narrowly escaped being indicted in the Bettencourt affair, where he is suspected of illegally funding his 2007 election campaign by way of France's richest woman, L'Oreal's Lilian Bettencourt.

Dossier - The Bettencourt scandal

The main national dailies run excerpts from transcripts of the 10-hour confidential inquiry by the feared investigative judge Jean-Michel Gentil in Bordeaux on Thursday. The panel of three examining magistrates decided to treat him as a “witness under caution,” rather than formally charging him.

Liberation reports that the judges' decision allows the former leader to retain hope of being eventually exonerated of accusations that he denies. But the paper argues that it also means the magistrates believe there are “grounds for further investigation” -- a stance that deals a significant blow to Sarkozy’s hopes of staging a political comeback.

The violent campaign by opponents of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project attracts comments from several papers this Saturday. This is after gendarmes razed squats erected there by the protesters. Liberation says several Green party leaders are infuriated by the no-nonsense manner in which the government is now treating the situation.

Le Monde reports that the ecologists, communists and Left Front activists have slammed the use of force against the squatters as a grave error, and have vowed to turn the village protest into a national revolt against the government.

Egypt is also in the firing line of most papers today, as protesters hold rival rallies after President Mohamed Morsi’s decision granting his office broader powers. Le Figaro reports about the opposition's outrage following Morsi’s dismissal of the country’s general prosecutor and the decree he signed blocking any attempts to dismiss the constituent assembly, composed essentially by members of his ruling Islamic Muslim Brotherhood party. Liberation maintains that the presidential decrees awaken old demons, as they have polarised the country's political forces further.

Le Monde reports that Teodorin Nguema Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea president Obiang Nguema Mbazogo, has lost the nine luxury cars seized from his posh Parisian residence. This is after an appeals court examining the ill-acquired wealth confirmed a high court ruling ordering the seizures.

The cars include a Maserati, a Rolls-Royce, two Bentleys, 2 Buggattis and a Ferrari, worth 5.3 million euros. In its verdict, the court ruled that there was enough evidence to establish that the money spent on the cars was not Obiang Junior’s, but funds embezzled from the state treasury.

Le Monde reports that he has failed to show up in court twice since the case was filed in July 2012. The paper says an international warrant of arrest is still hanging over his head, despite claims by Equatorial Guinea that he is protected by diplomatic immunity.

tags: Equatorial Guinea - François Fillon - French press review - Jean-François Copé - Mohamed Morsi - Nicolas Sarkozy - Notre-Dame-des-Landes - Press review
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