More details emerge of witness tampering plot to undermine Sarkozy-Libya funding probe

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From left: Michèle Marchand, Ziad Takieddine, Nicolas Sarkozy, Brice Hortefeux and Thierry Gaubert. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart From left: Michèle Marchand, Ziad Takieddine, Nicolas Sarkozy, Brice Hortefeux and Thierry Gaubert. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

An ongoing French judicial investigation into “witness tampering” centres on a secret operation in late 2020 to successfully convince a key witness in the probe into suspected Libyan funding of Nicola Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign, business intermediary Ziad Takieddine, to publicly retract his statements detailing the illicit funding. Mediapart has gained access to emerging evidence in the witness tampering case, and which throws further light on the links between members of the disparate group behind the operation and the former president’s entourage. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.

Anger of French diplomats at Macron's 'jobs for friends' reform

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Paris, August 28th 2019. Emmanuel Macron at the conference for ambassadors at the Élysée. © Photo Denis Allard / REA Paris, August 28th 2019. Emmanuel Macron at the conference for ambassadors at the Élysée. © Photo Denis Allard / REA

A reform promoting “internal mobility” has just been introduced at France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ostensible aim of Emmanuel Macron's measure is to make the French senior civil service more flexible and less elitist. However, many diplomats see the American-style reforms at the ministry as a pretext to enable the head of state to appoint his political friends or business executives to plum diplomatic posts. They also think the president is settling scores with the diplomatic corps, whom the Élysée royally detests. The depth of feeling at the ministry is so strong that trade unions representing diplomats have called for a strike on June 2nd. René Backmann reports.

French government faces questions over rape claims against minister Damien Abad

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Damian Abad during the ceremony in which he took over as the minister for solidarity and the disabled, May 20th 2022. © Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP Damian Abad during the ceremony in which he took over as the minister for solidarity and the disabled, May 20th 2022. © Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

On the evening of Saturday May 21st Mediapart published an investigation based on allegations from two women that they were raped by the new minister for solidarity and the disabled, Damien Abad. Mediapart also revealed that the claims had been reported to the ruling La République en Marche (LREM) party on May 16th, four days before Abad was appointed to the new government. Since the revelations members of the LREM have struggled to justify the appointment of Abad, who strongly denies the claims. Prime minister Élisabeth Borne says she was “not aware” of the allegations in advance. Marine Turchi reports.

France's new education minister Pap Ndiaye already facing storm of racism

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Pap Ndiaye, the new education minister, taking over at the ministry, May 20th 2022. © Photo Emmanuel Dunand / AFP Pap Ndiaye, the new education minister, taking over at the ministry, May 20th 2022. © Photo Emmanuel Dunand / AFP

The appointment of black historian Pap Ndiaye as education minister in Emmanuel Macron's new government has quickly brought to the surface the structural racism of French society and its political class. In this opinion article, Mediapart's Ilyes Ramdani argues that the reaction of the government to this tide of racism, and above all the response of President Emmanuel Macron himself, will set the tone for his new presidential term.

Macron's new government under Élisabeth Borne: same old recipe, even less novelty

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The Élysée during Emmanuel Macron's investiture, May 7th 2022. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart The Élysée during Emmanuel Macron's investiture, May 7th 2022. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

After a delay of 26 days, on Friday May 20th Emmanuel Macron finally appointed the 27 members of the new government under recently-installed prime minister Élisabeth Borne. As Ilyes Ramdani reports, its composition is strikingly similar to the old government and is still anchored firmly to the right. Historian Pap Ndiaye, who was a surprise appointment as minister of education, represents something of an anomaly alongside the rest of the ministerial team.

Why Élysée's bid to portray new French premier as leftwing is all smoke and mirrors

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Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée, May 16th 2022. © Photo Ludovic Marin / AFP Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée, May 16th 2022. © Photo Ludovic Marin / AFP

As far as his party and some commentators are concerned, Emmanuel Macron sent a “signal to the Left” this week by appointing Élisabeth Borne as France's new prime minister. It is a sleight of hand that would be laughable if it did not also highlight how the head of state is continuing his attempts to deconstruct the French political arena, argues Mediapart political reporter Ellen Salvi in this opinion article.

Macron appoints Élisabeth Borne as his new prime minister

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Elisabeth Borne at the Elysée Palace attending the inauguration of re-elected president Emmanuel Macron, May 7th 2022. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart Elisabeth Borne at the Elysée Palace attending the inauguration of re-elected president Emmanuel Macron, May 7th 2022. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

Élisabeth Borne was on Monday named as France’s new prime minister, replacing Jean Castex under who she served for the last two years as labour minister. Borne, 61, is the second-ever woman to lead a French government, after Édith Cresson who was briefly in office 30 years ago. The future of Borne and her government now hangs on the results of legislative elections to be held next month, when it remains to be seen whether Macron’s Renaissance party can maintain a working majority in parliament. Dan Israel and Ilyes Ramdani analyse Borne’s track record, and the challenges she now faces.

The growing evidence linking Russian mercenaries to abuses in Mali

By Paul Lorgerie
An undated French army photo of what it says are Russian mercenaries in northern Mali. © © Photo Armée française via AP / Sipa An undated French army photo of what it says are Russian mercenaries in northern Mali. © © Photo Armée française via AP / Sipa

Mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a Russian private paramilitary organisation with close ties to the Kremlin, have been linked to summary executions, forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests in Mali, where they are officially presented as “instructors” for the West African country’s army in its war against jihadist insurgents. While the Malian authorities deny that their Russian allies take part in direct combat, numerous eyewitness accounts tell a very different story. Paul Lorgerie reports from Mali.

Sarkozy-Gaddafi election funding probe closes in on Airbus payments

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A former executive of European aerospace giant Airbus has been placed under investigation for alleged corruption, criminal conspiracy and money laundering by French magistrates probing the suspected illegal funding of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign by the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The move centres on secret payments made to a business intermediary close to the former French president. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

European Commission VP Timmermans says Ukraine war has ‘increased urgency’ for a ‘sustainable society’

Frans Timmermans, European Commission vice-president. © Photo Fred Marvaux/European Union Frans Timmermans, European Commission vice-president. © Photo Fred Marvaux/European Union

The upheaval of Russia’s war against Ukraine has further tested the already challenging agenda for the introduction of the European Commission’s measures on climate change, and notably its ambitious ‘Green Deal’ programme aimed at making the EU carbon neutral by 2050. The man in the hot seat is Frans Timmermans, European Commission vice-president responsible for the Green Deal and climate change measures. In this interview with Mediapart, he discusses the impact on the bloc of the war in Ukraine, the fossil fuel quandary, why European agriculture must move away from intensive farming to a sustainable, environmentalist model, and why he calls upon political leaders to show the “courage to recognise the crisis that we are in”.

The vital opportunity of a united French Left

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Labour Day marchers in Paris with flags for a ‘Union populaire’, May 1st 2022. © Photo Thomas Coex / AFP Labour Day marchers in Paris with flags for a ‘Union populaire’, May 1st 2022. © Photo Thomas Coex / AFP

Following a divided, and for some, catastrophic, showing in the presidential elections in April, the principal parties that make up the French Left have this week agreed an electoral alliance ahead of parliamentary elections to be held in June. In this opinion article, Mediapart's publishing editor Edwy Plenel hails the pact as a vital opportunity, as welcome as it was unexpected, to counterbalance the enormous political power of the re-elected president.

Plight of Syrian migrants trying to reach Europe from Algeria

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Samer, a 26-year-old Syrian, gazes out over the Mediterranean Sea at Oran in Algeria. © Nejma Brahim / Mediapart Samer, a 26-year-old Syrian, gazes out over the Mediterranean Sea at Oran in Algeria. © Nejma Brahim / Mediapart

Since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011 several thousand Syrians have taken refuge in Algeria. But in recent years a number of them have been trying to make the often perilous sea crossing from the Algerian coast to Europe. Some have been ripped off by unscrupulous traffickers; others have paid the ultimate price and perished at sea. Nejma Brahim reports from the Algerian port of Oran.

The growing fears over France's teenage neo-Nazis

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'Nicolas' in one of the many images of him with guns. © Document Mediapart 'Nicolas' in one of the many images of him with guns. © Document Mediapart

A number of ultra-right terrorism cases in France in recent years have featured teenagers, a trend that is worrying the French authorities. In many cases youngsters are being recruited by groups from forums linked to online video games. Mediapart here reveals the case of a small ultra-right group whose 16-year-old leader and two associates were recently arrested. Sébastien Bourdon and Matthieu Suc report.

The contours of France's new political landscape

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Election posters of Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen in Paris, April 2022. © Photo Magali Cohen / Hans Lucas via AFP Election posters of Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen in Paris, April 2022. © Photo Magali Cohen / Hans Lucas via AFP

An analysis of the final results of last Sunday's presidential election shows the extent to which Emmanuel Macron's electoral strategy paid off handsomely, while at the same time indicating that support for the far-right is now firmly entrenched across the country. It is now abundantly clear that France has entered a new political era. But the results also highlight the risk that whole sections of the population could be left stranded without proper political representation for years to come. Fabien Escalona and Donatien Huet report.

Macron presides over the ruins

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Emmanuel Macron during his speech at the Champ-de-Mars, Paris, April 24th 2022. © Photo Bertrand Guay / AFP Emmanuel Macron during his speech at the Champ-de-Mars, Paris, April 24th 2022. © Photo Bertrand Guay / AFP

The strategy that Emmanuel Macron deployed for five years has paid handsome dividends electorally, as shown by his win over Marine Le Pen with around 58% of the vote. But in democratic terms that strategy has produced nothing but failure. As Ellen Salvi reports in the aftermath of the president's re-election, the country's divisions have never been so deep.