EU lawmakers have roundly rejected France’s European Commission nominee Sylvie Goulard, amid an EU anti-fraud inquiry, dealing a blow to French President Emmanuel Macron.
Goulard was nominated by Macron and allocated the wide-ranging internal market portfolio by commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen.
However, she came under fire from the European Parliament over an ongoing investigation into staff payments during her time as an EU lawmaker, as well as lucrative consulting work she carried out then.
In a committee vote, 29 backed Goulard and 82 rejected her.
The parliament must approve von der Leyen’s full commission team before it can take office on Nov. 1.
EU lawmakers decided that they could not approve the full line-up if it includes Goulard.
They have also rejected the nominees from Hungary and Romania.
Macron had previously argued that only the best should be appointed to top EU posts. (NAN)
Edited by Halima Sheji
European travellers from Schengen area able to enter French territory without restriction
Vehicles cross the border between France and Italy in Menton, southern France, on June 15, 2020. In a televised address to the nation on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron declared “a first victory” over the coronavirus epidemic, announcing a return to normalcy from Monday across French regions, except for overseas territories. From Monday, European travellers will be able to enter French territory without restriction, while those from countries outside Schengen area will have to wait until July 1. (Photo by Serge Haouzi/Xinhua)
French hold rallies against police violence, racism
Despite a ban on public gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, a fresh round of rallies have drawn tens of thousands of people across France to take to the streets to denounce police brutality and racism on Saturday.
Several thousand people converged to the Republic square in central Paris, demanding “Justice for Adama Traore” — a 24-year-old black Frenchman who died in police custody four years ago. The case, according to protesters, happened in circumstances similar to the death of George Floyd in the United States last month.
Protesters also carried posters reading “Stop police violence” “No justice, No peace” and “Remaining silent is to be an accomplice.”
In Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Montpellier and Nantes, people also took to the streets to join Traore’s family support group to condemn police violence.
“It’s a rally to denounce the denial of justice, a rally to denounce police violence, social violence and racial violence,” said Assa, Traore’s sister.
“The death of George Floyd has an echo in the death in France of my little brother,” she told the crowds at Paris rally. “My brother said the same thing as George Floyd — ‘I can no longer breathe.'”
France’s state investigators had dismissed the charge of police brutality in Traore case, saying that the man died of heart failure due to pre-existing medical conditions.
While Floyd’s death triggered anti-racism protests around the world, the Traore case came back under the spotlight in France after a new probe commissioned by Traore’s family said the young man died of asphyxiation due to the technique police officers used during the arrest.
Last Saturday, the first round of national rallies gathered 23,300 people across the country, including 5,500 in Paris, according to the Interior Ministry.
Early this week, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner vowed “zero tolerance” to police racism, stressing that “each suspicion must lead to an investigation and each mistake to a sanction.”
He announced that the chokehold arrest would be abandoned and no longer be taught in police and gendarmerie schools. He also ordered to reinforce the use of body cameras.
Finding the racism allegations unjustified, police unions held their own protests across French cities on Friday. Thousands of policemen walked out from police stations to demand an end of police “stigmatization.”
Egyptian, French leaders discuss situation in Libya
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed on Friday the recent developments in war-torn Libya.
During a phone call, Sisi briefed the French president about Egypt’s efforts to reach a peaceful political settlement in the North African country within the framework of the Egypt-sponsored Cairo Declaration initiative, said Bassam Rady, Egyptian presidential spokesman, in a statement.
On June 6, Sisi announced the initiative to end the Libyan internal conflict following his meeting in Cairo with Libyan eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar and Tobruk-based parliament speaker Aguila Saleh.
Dubbed Cairo Declaration, the Egyptian initiative proposes a cease-fire between Libyan warring parties, disbanding militias and handing over their arms, pulling out foreign forces, electing a ruling presidential council representing all Libyans and drafting a constitutional declaration to regulate elections for later stages.
For his part, the French president welcomed the Cairo Declaration, stressing the initiative’s importance to help find a pollical solution to the crisis in Libya.
Macron added that the initiative goes in line with the Libya-related UN resolutions and international efforts to end the conflict in Libya, praising Egypt’s unwavering efforts to settle the conflict in the oil-rich Arab country, the spokesman said.
Both leaders agreed to continue joint coordination to implement the initiative, pledging support to Haftar side in combating terrorism and armed groups.
Meanwhile, Sisi and Macron also discussed strategic bilateral relations, especially at the military and security levels, stressing keenness to develop joint cooperation in various fields and intensify work to push forward bilateral relations.
French court says Rwanda researcher can access ex-president’s archive
A French court on Friday granted a researcher access to documents from the archive of then-president Francois Mitterand about Rwanda in the years leading up to and immediately after the 1994 genocide in the African country.
France’s involvement in Rwanda before and during the genocide, in which more than 800,000 members of the Tutsi ethnic minority as well as moderate members of the Hutu majority were killed, has been a matter of controversy for years.
The Culture Ministry had refused access the researcher access to the presidential archive in line with the wishes of Mitterand’s representative. The latter by law retained a veto on any early release of the documents for 25 years. The former president himself died in 1996.
In its judgement, the Council of State – France’s top administrative court – ruled that the researcher, the author of previous works about Rwanda, had a legitimate interest in accessing the archives that outweighed other considerations.
France and Rwanda have in the past accused each other of sharing responsibility for the genocide and introduced complex judicial proceedings against each other.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has repeatedly accused France of playing an active role in the preparation and implementation of the 1994 genocide.
France’s current president, Emmanuel Macron, in 2019 appointed a commission of historians and researchers to investigate France’s role in the genocide.
The Council of State’s ruling comes nine days after a French court ordered a key suspect in the genocide, Felicien Kabuga, extradited to an international court after more than 20 years on the run
Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)