Germany’s unruly anti-immigration AfD to pick election team

Co-leader Frauke Petry, right, talks to board member Alexander Gauland at the party convention of Germany's nationalist party AfD (Alternative for Germany) in Cologne, Germany, on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 23 April 2017
0

Germany’s unruly anti-immigration AfD to pick election team

COLOGNE, GERMANY: Germany’s anti-immigration AfD will wrap up a fractious party congress Sunday by choosing the team to lead it into a September general election, after it dramatically sidelined its most prominent personality.
The Alternative for Germany’s telegenic co-leader Frauke Petry had already announced last week she would not join the campaign squad, after weeks of bitter infighting between populists and more radical, hard-right forces.
Petry, a 41-year-old former chemist pregnant with her fifth child, was handed a further setback Saturday at the gathering in the western city of Cologne, which drew tens of thousands of protesters.
The around 600 delegates rejected her call to adopt a more moderate-sounding “Realpolitik” program intended to shut down the party’s more extremist voices, including those who have attacked Germany’s Holocaust remembrance culture.
Top-selling daily Bild called delegates’ decision to not even debate her motion a “crushing blow” for Petry, who expressed bitterness on the sidelines of the meeting.
“I will step aside during the campaign, as that’s what the party congress apparently wants,” Petry said, while pledging to remain party co-chairwoman “for now.”
“As long as the party is not willing to say in what direction it wants to go, a team will have to lead the campaign that can deal with this indecision better than I can.”
The AfD has seen its support plummet as the refugee influx to Germany has slowed in recent months after Chancellor Angela Merkel let in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015.


The party, now represented in 11 of Germany’s 16 states, aims to sign off on a program that will pave the way for it to enter the national parliament for the first time in its four-year history.
It includes calls to stop family unification of refugees already in Germany, strip immigrants convicted of “significant crimes” of their German passports, and declare Islam incompatible with German culture.
But commentators said the power struggle further undermined its bid to surf the momentum of France’s far-right frontrunner Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump in the United States and the Brexit movement in Britain to electoral success in the September 24 vote.
Spiegel Online journalist Severin Weiland said Saturday it was now even “doubtful” whether the AfD would clear the five-percent hurdle to representation in the national parliament.
“Frauke Petry was the public face of this party,” he said.
Petry’s chief rival, 76-year-old Alexander Gauland, a hard-line defector from Merkel’s CDU, had urged delegates to defeat her Realpolitik motion, calling it “divisive.”
But even Gauland, who was widely mentioned as a candidate to join the AfD campaign team, expressed regret that Petry, who is very popular with the party’s base, will not be front-and-center on the campaign trail.
Another likely member of the election team is 38-year-old economist and former investment banker Alice Weidel who has railed against “an army of millions of uneducated migrants from the Middle East and Africa who expect a free ride” in Germany.
The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said that the dispute was less about the political goals of the party, the most successful right-wing populist outfit in Germany’s post-war history, than personal ambition.
“The AfD is heading for a showdown that could end up breaking it apart,” it said.


Frenchman linked to Sarkozy probe faces UK extradition hearing

French-Algerian businessman Alexandre Djouhri arrives at Westminster Magistrates court in central London on January 21, 2019 to attend an extradition hearing. (AFP)
Updated 29 min 3 sec ago
0

Frenchman linked to Sarkozy probe faces UK extradition hearing

  • The 59-year-old businessman was summoned several times by the French courts and arrested at London Heathrow Airport in January 2018 on a European arrest warrant

LONDON: The Franco-Algerian businessman arrested in Britain as part of a probe into France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy claimed on Monday he was a “victim” of French magistrates at his extradition hearing in London.
Alexandre Djouhri is a key figure in the investigation into the alleged Libyan financing of Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign.
Speaking to AFP outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Djouhri said: “I’m a grandfather, I’m a father and they deny me the right to exist, and that’s incredible.”
“It’s not French justice, it’s two magistrates who have made a forgery in writing, and I have absolute proof,” he said, naming two French prosecutors.
After several postponements, the extradition hearing began at 1000 GMT with the French state’s presentation. The court’s decision is expected on Thursday.
Djouhri said he expected judge Vanessa Baraitser to “deliver justice,” claiming he was “not a fugitive.”
The 59-year-old businessman was summoned several times by the French courts and arrested at London Heathrow Airport in January 2018 on a European arrest warrant.
French investigators are examining his alleged involvement in the 2009 sale of a villa in the French Alps for around 10 million euros.
A Libyan investment fund managed by ex-chief of staff Bashir Saleh of Libya’s deposed leader Muammar Qaddafi bought the property at a “very inflated” price, and Djouhri is suspected of being its true owner, a source close to the inquiry has told AFP.
Djouhri was released on bail on health grounds in February after suffering from heart problems.
He underwent surgery earlier this year, a source close to the case previously told AFP.
Djouhri in September called the arrest warrant “fraudulent.”
The businessman must adhere to bail conditions which mean he must stay in his home from 2:00 am to 6:00 am and report to a police station between 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 pm.
He must also remain within the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the neighboring City of Westminster district.
Djouhri’s lawyer Mark Summers said the bail conditions were “extremely onerous.”