Breakthrough to end protests on French island Mayotte

Protesters hold French and Mayotte flags as they gather on the Place de la Republique in Mamoutzou, on the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, on Tuesday, during a demonstration against insecurity and immigration. (AFP)
Updated 15 March 2018
0

Breakthrough to end protests on French island Mayotte

MAMOUDZOU, France: The French government hoped Wednesday to have brokered an end to a month of protests on its Indian Ocean island territory of Mayotte, where locals have been blocking streets to protest living standards and security problems.
Mayotte, an island of 250,000 people that is part of the Comoros archipelago of islands off southeast Africa, has been in turmoil since mid-February.
Violent clashes between rival gangs at a school sparked anger over spiralling crime which many residents blame on migrants from non-French Comoran islands.
Five hours of negotiations late on Tuesday between protest leaders and France’s minister for overseas territories, Annick Girardin, appeared to have provided a breakthrough.
“A plan to tackle security problems has been confirmed,” said Fatihou Ibrahime, a spokesman for the protest movement, adding that there had been “real progress.”
At a major rally in the main town of Mamoudzou on Wednesday, the protest leaders are set to propose lifting road blocks that have paralyzed the island.
The island, which voted to become an integral part of France in 2009, has been plagued by strikes, demonstrations and road blocks aimed at drawing the attention of the government in Paris to the situation.
Per capita economic output on the island is a quarter of that on the French mainland and the unemployment rate of 25.9 percent is over double that in France as a whole.
Ahead of her visit, Girardin promised to tackle the phenomenon of pregnant women arriving by boat from nearby islands to give birth on French soil, as a way of obtaining French and EU citizenship for their child.
Around 70 percent of the 10,000 babies born every year in the maternity hospital in Mamoudzou are born to illegal migrants, mainly from the nearby Comoran islands of Anjouan, Moheli and Grande Comore, according to official statistics.
Girardin has suggested giving the hospital special “extra-territorial” status so that children born there do not automatically qualify for citizenship by birth.
The Comoros, one of the world’s poorest countries, was a French colony until 1975 when it declared independence. But Mayotte opted to remain part of France.
The French island is not the only overseas territory that has become a magnet for migrants while itself trying to play catch-up with mainland France on health, housing and education.
French Guiana, situated between Brazil and Suriname in South America, has experienced a surge of arrivals from Haiti and neighboring countries in recent years that has also put pressure on under-resourced hospitals and schools.
That led to months-long protests ahead of France’s presidential election last year, which prompted promises of extra security forces and funding.


Trump drops new North Korea sanctions because he ‘likes’ Kim

In this file photo taken on February 27, 2019 US President Donald Trump (L) speaks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during a meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi. (AFP)
Updated 34 min 4 sec ago
0

Trump drops new North Korea sanctions because he ‘likes’ Kim

  • “President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” the president’s spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Friday abruptly announced the cancelation of sanctions imposed by his own Treasury Department to tighten international pressure on North Korea.
“It was announced today by the US Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!” Trump said in a tweet.
He appeared to be referring to measures unveiled Thursday that targeted two Chinese companies accused of helping North Korea to evade tight international sanctions meant to pressure Pyongyang into ending its nuclear weapons program.
But The Washington Post reported, citing Trump administration officials, that the president’s tweet referenced future sanctions that had not been announced and were scheduled for “the coming days.”
The Thursday sanctions were the first new sign of pressure since talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un broke down in Hanoi less than a month ago.
However, Trump, who has previously spoken of “love” for the totalitarian leader, appears to retain hope that his strong personal relationship will bear fruit.
“President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” the president’s spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said.
Adam Schiff, a Democrat who heads the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, blasted Trump for canceling sanctions “imposed only yesterday and championed by his own national security adviser, because he ‘loves’ Kim.”
“Foolish naivete is dangerous enough. Gross incompetence and disarray in the White House make it even worse,” Schiff tweeted.
On Thursday, Trump national security adviser John Bolton had tweeted that the sanctions were meant to put an end to “illicit shipping practices” by North Korea.
“Everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure they are not involved in North Korea’s sanctions evasion,” he said.
China complained, saying that it did enforce all UN resolutions and opposed “any country imposing unilateral sanctions and taking long-arm jurisdiction against any Chinese entity according to their own domestic laws.”
This was Trump’s second major, unexpected foreign policy announcement by Twitter in two days.
On Thursday, he sent a tweet reversing decades of US policy and pledged to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the hotly contested Golan Heights border area with Syria.