Macron the 'Sun President' and his parallel universe

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Emmanuel Macron and Bernard Arnault at the refurbished La Samaritaine in Paris on June 21st 2021. © AFP Emmanuel Macron and Bernard Arnault at the refurbished La Samaritaine in Paris on June 21st 2021. © AFP

Monday June 21st marked the annual celebration of music in France known as the Fête de la Musique. But, says Mediapart co-founder François Bonnet in this op-ed article, the event was not celebrated in quite the same way by everyone. There was champagne and state honours for the rich and powerful at the Élysée on the one hand; and baton charges and tear gas for young people listening to music in the streets on the other. In what proved a bizarre juxtaposition, he argues, the French presidency managed to organise two entirely separate worlds, that only co-existed side by side thanks to social and police violence.

Sarkozy-Libyan funding case: the bizarre inside story of attempted manipulation

Nicolas Sarkozy on the news bulletin of TF1 television station, March 3rd 2021. © Ludovic MARIN / AFP Nicolas Sarkozy on the news bulletin of TF1 television station, March 3rd 2021. © Ludovic MARIN / AFP

In November 2020 Ziad Takieddine, a key witness in the judicial investigation into Libyan funding of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential election campaign, retracted his evidence. The apparent volte-face by a man who had previously said Nicolas Sarkozy had been corrupted by Libyan money in the affair was seized on by the former president's supporters as a turning point in the lengthy judicial saga. But Takieddine's retraction was not a genuine one. New legal documents seen by Mediapart – who originally broke the story of the alleged funding scandal - show the scale of the media manipulation used to help Nicolas Sarkozy. The former president's role in this is now at the heart of this part of the investigation. So, too, is the role played by the so-called 'queen of the paparazzi' Michèle 'Mimi' Marchand who is currently in custody in connection with the case. She has told detectives that her role in the affair was to: “Kill Mediapart”.  Fabrice ArfiKarl Laske and Antton Rouget report.

 

Family of slain Togo president seek France's help to solve assassination mystery

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Sylvanus Olympio, who was then prime minister of Togo, shaking the hand of French president Charles de Gaulle at the Élysée on September 16th 1960. © AFP Sylvanus Olympio, who was then prime minister of Togo, shaking the hand of French president Charles de Gaulle at the Élysée on September 16th 1960. © AFP

On January 13th 1963 the president of the West African nation of Togo, Sylvanus Olympio, who had been a prominent figure in that country's fight for independence from France, was assassinated in the capital Lomé. Though the killing shocked the world and marked the first coup d'État in post-colonial Africa, there has never been a proper investigation into who carried out his murder and why. Today, 58 years later, his family are still seeking to “know the truth” about Olympio's death. They are calling for access to France's official archives, hoping that diplomatic reports from the former colonial power will help shed light on this unsolved affair. Fanny Pigeaud reports.


French regional elections 2021: far right flops, Right does well and Left hangs on amid voter apathy

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Marine Le Pen gave a brief speech after her party's poor showing in the regional elections on June 20th 2021. © Hans Lucas via AFP Marine Le Pen gave a brief speech after her party's poor showing in the regional elections on June 20th 2021. © Hans Lucas via AFP

The first round of France's regional and département or county elections took place on Sunday June 20th and one of the major stories of the day was the record level of abstention, with nearly two out of three voters staying home. A year before the presidential election another key outcome was the poor showing of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN), led by Marine Le Pen, which despite doing well in opinion polls only came top in one region. Elsewhere the biggest winners of the night were the conservative Right, while the vote for the Left and the Greens held up better than many had predicted.  Perhaps the biggest loser of the night was Emmanuel Macron's ruling La République en Marche party which failed even to come second in any region. The second and final round of voting takes place on Sunday June 27th. Mathilde Goanec, Ellen Salvi, Lucie Delaporte, Ilyes Ramdani and Pauline Graulle report.

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Michèle Marchand: a woman at the heart of power in France

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Michèle Marchand at the Élysée in November 2017. © Ludovic Marin/AFP Michèle Marchand at the Élysée in November 2017. © Ludovic Marin/AFP

The “queen of the paparazzi” Michèle 'Mimi' Marchand, who is currently in the news in relation to aspects of the probe into Libyan funding of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign, is reported to be close to Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron. She was a regular visitor to the Élysée at the start of President Macron's term of office in 2017, though became a more discreet presence after July 2018 and the emergence of the Benalla affair, when the president's personal security advisor Alexandre Benalla was videoed beating up protestors. Yet the influential position that the presidential couple granted her at the centre of power in France continues to raise questions, reports Ellen Salvi.

Sarkozy-Libya funding affair: paparazzi boss Michèle Marchand detained over alleged bail breach

'Mimi' Marchand photographed at the Elysée, November 15th 2017. © Ludovic Marin / AFP 'Mimi' Marchand photographed at the Elysée, November 15th 2017. © Ludovic Marin / AFP

French paparazzi agency boss Michèle Marchand, an influential PR fixer for politicians and confidante of presidents, has been taken into custody for breaching bail conditions. Earlier in June Marchand, nicknamed 'Mimi', was placed under formal investigation for witness tampering and criminal conspiracy in relation to an aspect of the long-running investigation into suspected Libyan financing of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign. But she was subsequently released on bail. However, Mediapart has learnt from several sources that she was taken into detention on Friday June 18th for apparently breaching a condition of that bail. Fabrice ArfiKarl LaskeYann Philippin and Antton Rouget report.

French footballers banned from wearing headscarves stage their own tournament

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A match at the Les Hijabeuses tournament at La Courneuve, north of Paris. © MC / Mediapart A match at the Les Hijabeuses tournament at La Courneuve, north of Paris. © MC / Mediapart

Wearing a headscarf or hijab during a football match is authorised by the sport's world governing body FIFA. But they remained banned for official games in France. A group of Muslim women players are fighting against this discriminatory policy and are calling on the French football authorities, the Fédération Française de Football (FFF), to change their rules. As part of that battle the group, known as Les Hijabeuses, organised a football tournament on the outskirts of Paris. Mickaël Correia reports.

How France's shameful deportations help Ramzan Kadyrov's brutal Chechen regime

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Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov. © (grozny-tv) Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov. © (grozny-tv)

In recent months France's interior minister Gérald Darmanin has ordered the expulsion of around a dozen Chechens from the country. This does not just trample over fundamental rights of asylum and the country's commitments under European treaties, says Mediapart's co-founder François Bonnet in this op-ed article. He argues it also means that France is effectively collaborating with Chechen's notorious leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a man accused of overseeing the murder and torture of his opponents.

Election funding trial: Sarkozy loses his cool as he seeks to clear his name

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Nicolas Sarkozy at the court in Paris, June 15th 2021. © Christophe Archambault/AFP Nicolas Sarkozy at the court in Paris, June 15th 2021. © Christophe Archambault/AFP

The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy appeared in court for the first time yesterday, June 15th, for the trial in which he and 13 others face charges over the massive overspend during his failed presidential election campaign in 2012. The ex-head of state conceded some responsibility in the way his campaign was conducted. But, showing clear signs of irritation, Nicolas Sarkozy strongly denied that he had committed any financial irregularities himself. And instead he pointed the finger at supporters of Jean-François Copé, who at the time was head of Sarkozy's political party the UMP.  Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan was in court in Paris to hear the former president give evidence.

The Corsican village gripped by fear of spiralling vendettas

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A tag in Cargèse in memory of Massimu Susini, shot dead in 2019. © HC A tag in Cargèse in memory of Massimu Susini, shot dead in 2019. © HC

The French Mediterranean island of Corsica, known as “the island of beauty” for its stunning scenery, coastlines and wildlife, is also known for its clans and underworld gangs, and a murder rate well above the average in mainland France. Hélène Constanty reports from the Corsican village of Cargèse, where a string of killings has raised fears of a spiralling blood feud, and where a local collective is standing up to organised crime.

French organic farmers 'forgotten' by the CAP

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Gwénaël Floch sur son exploitation. © Amélie Poinssot / Mediapart Gwénaël Floch sur son exploitation. © Amélie Poinssot / Mediapart

Gwénaël Floch runs a small but productive organic farm in Brittany, north-west France. He pays himself, like his employees, the minimum legal wage, while he also has bank loans to repay on initial investment in the business. He receives little more than 300 euros per year from the EU’s annual 58-billion-euro Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies, supposedly promoting organic agriculture, and which will be even less after the introduction of the new CAP in 2023. That is when organic small farms in France will lose the aid, however small, they are currently entitled to, and which prompted farmers to protest in Paris earlier this month. Amélie Poinssot reports from Brittany.

The catastrophe now upon us

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Emmanuel Macron on a walkabout in Valence, south-east France, after he was slapped by a man in the neighbouring town of Tain L'Hermitage, June 8th 2021. © Nicolas Guyonnet / Hans Lucas via AFP Emmanuel Macron on a walkabout in Valence, south-east France, after he was slapped by a man in the neighbouring town of Tain L'Hermitage, June 8th 2021. © Nicolas Guyonnet / Hans Lucas via AFP

After he was slapped earlier this week in a town in south-east France by a man shouting a medieval royalist battle cry, President Emmanuel Macron described the assault as an “incident” that should be “relativised”, and that “all is well”. On the contrary, writes Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel in this opinion article, all is going badly, and the slap illustrates the far-right violence that has been set loose by the cynicism and irresponsibility of the Macron presidency.

Sexual abuse: studies suggest lesbians and bisexual women are the principal victims

By Rozenn Le Carboulec
A ‘lesbian march’ rally at the Place de la République in central Paris calling for access for all women to assisted reproductive technology (ART), April 25th 2021. © GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP A ‘lesbian march’ rally at the Place de la République in central Paris calling for access for all women to assisted reproductive technology (ART), April 25th 2021. © GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

A series of studies in France suggest that lesbians and bisexual women are far more exposed to sexual violence than heterosexual women, as a result of sexist and lesphobic behaviour in both their domestic and societal environments. Rozenn Le Carboulec analyses the available data.

French paparazzi agency boss under investigation for witness tampering in Sarkozy-Libya funding affair

Michèle "Mimi" Marchand in April 2017 in Le Touquet, northern France. © Eric Feferberg / AFP Michèle "Mimi" Marchand in April 2017 in Le Touquet, northern France. © Eric Feferberg / AFP

French paparazzi agency boss Michèle Marchand, an influential PR fixer for politicians, was on Saturday placed under formal investigation for witness tampering and criminal conspiracy. The move relates to the public retraction by a key witness of part of his previous testimony to a judicial probe that Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign was funded by the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report.

Rafale Papers: when Dassault middleman engaged a former Indian lieutenant general

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Sushen Gupta, the Indian business intermediary paid several million euros for his role in helping French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation conclude its sale to India of 36 Rafale fighter jets, provided remunerations to a former high-ranking Indian army officer and his daughter via offshore companies, involving questionable services and invoices. The retired officer and his daughter insist nothing illegal took place. Yann Philippin reports.