French foreign minister quits ‘ailing Socialists’

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced on March 8, 2018 that he is leaving the French socialist party. (AFP / LUDOVIC MARIN)
Updated 09 March 2018
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French foreign minister quits ‘ailing Socialists’

PARIS: France’s ailing Socialist Party lost another heavyweight on Thursday after Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced he was quitting the party which was chased from power last year by centrist President Emmanuel Macron.
Le Drian’s membership of the party had come into question in recent days.
A number of senior Socialists had called on the 70-year-old political veteran to choose between the opposition benches and the government.
Le Drian, who served as defense minister under former Socialist President Francois Hollande before switching his loyalties to Macron, told Cnews television he had heard their calls.
“I am leaving the Socialist Party with a great deal of emotion, as a member for 44 years, and also with a lot of pride, having been involved in the campaigns of (former president) Francois Mitterrand, (former premier) Lionel Jospin and Francois Hollande with whom I am still close friends,” he said.
Le Drian’s departure is another blow to one of France’s oldest parties which voters deserted en masse last year after five years of lacklustre rule by the unpopular Hollande.
Le Drian faulted the party for what he called a “sectarian, sterile” approach in failing to back Macron for president over the Socialists’ own leftist candidate, contrasting their stance with that of Germany’s Social Democrats who have agreed to form another coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
He however ruled out joining Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party, which has attracted a slew of defectors from both the Socialists and right-wing Republicans.
His announcement came a day after four candidates for the leadership of the Socialists faced off in a TV debate.


Myanmar’s delaying tactics blocking Rohingya return: Bangladesh PM

Updated 26 September 2018
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Myanmar’s delaying tactics blocking Rohingya return: Bangladesh PM

  • Patience is growing thin with Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and its military that wields the “main power” there
  • Myanmar has said it is ready to take back the refugees and has built transit centers to house them initially on their return

NEW YORK: Bangladesh’s leader accused neighboring Myanmar of finding new excuses to delay the return of more than 700,000 Rohingya who were forced across the border over the past year, and said in an interview late Tuesday that under no circumstance would the refugees remain permanently in her already crowded country.
“I already have 160 million people in my country,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, when asked whether Bangladesh would be willing to walk back its policy against permanent integration. “I can’t take any other burden. I can’t take it. My country cannot bear.”
Hasina was speaking to Reuters in New York, where she is attending the annual United Nations meeting of world leaders.
The prime minister, who faces a national election in December, said she does not want to pick a fight with Myanmar over the refugees.
But she suggested patience is growing thin with Myanmar’s leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, and its military that she said wields the “main power” there.
Hasina has previously called on the international community to pressure Myanmar to implement the deal.
Calls to Myanmar’s government spokesman, Zaw Htay, went unanswered. He said recently that he will no longer answer media questions by phone, but will answer questions at a biweekly press conference.
Rohingya fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh after a bloody military campaign against the Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The two countries reached a deal in November to begin repatriation within two months, but it has not started, with stateless Rohingya still crossing the border into Bangladesh and the refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar.
“They agree everything, but unfortunately they don’t act, that is the problem,” Hasina said of Myanmar. “Everything is set but ... every time they try to find some new excuse,” she told Reuters.
Myanmar has said it is ready to take back the refugees and has built transit centers to house them initially on their return.
But it has complained that Bangladesh has not provided its officials with the correct forms. Bangladesh has rejected those claims and UN aid agencies say it is not yet safe for the refugees to return.
Given the delays, Bangladesh has been preparing new homes on a remote island called Bhasan Char, which rights groups have said could be subject to flooding. Cox’s Bazar is also vulnerable to flooding but this year’s monsoon season was light.
Hasina said building permanent structures for refugees on the mainland “is not at all a possibility (and) not acceptable” since they are Myanmar citizens and must return.
Rohingya regard themselves as native to Myanmar’s Rakhine state, but are widely considered interlopers by the country’s Buddhist majority and are denied citizenship.
Human rights groups and Rohingya activists have estimated thousands died in last year’s security crackdown, which was sparked by attacks by Rohingya insurgents on security forces in Rakhine in August 2017.
This week, a US government investigation reported that Myanmar’s military waged a planned, coordinated campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities against the Rohingya.
Myanmar has rejected similar findings as “one-sided” and said it had conducted a legitimate counterinsurgency operation.
Ahead of December’s election, Hasina and her ruling Awami League have been on the defensive following student protests over an unregulated transport industry. The protest was triggered after a speeding bus killed two students in Dhaka.
However, the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has been in disarray after its leader and former prime minister, Khaleda Zia, was jailed for corruption in February — charges she says were part of a plot to keep her and her family out of politics.