France’s Macron beats Le Pen to win second term

Update French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron celebrate after his victory in France's presidential election. (AFP)
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French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron celebrate after his victory in France's presidential election. (AFP)
Update Supporters react after the victory of French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron in France's presidential election, at the Champ de Mars, in Paris. (AFP)
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Supporters react after the victory of French President and La Republique en Marche (LREM) party candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron in France's presidential election, at the Champ de Mars, in Paris. (AFP)
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Updated 24 April 2022

France’s Macron beats Le Pen to win second term

France’s Macron beats Le Pen to win second term
  • Polling organizations estimated that the abstention rate was on course for 28 percent
  • Result could also have an impact on the war in Ukraine

PARIS/LONDON: Emmanuel Macron has been re-elected for a second term as French president on Sunday, with 58.2% of the vote, according to estimates from the Ipsos polling institute.

Turnout for the French presidential run-off stood at 63.2 percent at 5 p.m. on Sunday, down by more than two percentage points from the same time in the second round of the 2017 presidential race, the interior ministry said.

Participation was also two percentage points below what it had been at 5:00 pm in the first round of voting on April 10, when President Emmanuel Macron and his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen advanced to the run-off.

On the basis of the official figures, polling organizations estimated that the abstention rate was on course for 28 percent which, if confirmed, would be the highest in any presidential election second-round run-off since 1969.

Analysts had warned that low turnout could swing the final result in either direction, even though opinion polls have given Macron a comfortable lead against Le Pen over the past two weeks.

The centrist Macron asked voters to trust him for a second five-year term despite a presidency that was troubled by protests, the pandemic and Russia's war on Ukraine. A Macron victory makes him the first French president in 20 years to win a second term.

The result Sunday in France, a nuclear-armed nation with one of the world’s biggest economies, could also have an impact on the war in Ukraine, as France has played a key role in diplomatic efforts and firmly backed sanctions against Russia for its invasion of its neighbor.

Live updates below. (All times BST)

21:00 - Re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron in his victory speech on Sunday said his next five-year term would be different, and promised that “nobody will be left by the wayside.”

“Because each one of us counts for more than just himself,” said Macron. “This is what make the French people such a unique force which I love so intensely and which I am so proud to be serving again.”

20:00 - Social media footage and on-the-ground reports are saying police are charging and spraying teargas at protesters in central Paris following the announcement of the result.

19:30 - Marine Le Pen said she would keep up the political fight against President Emmanuel Macron in the run-up to June parliamentary elections, as she conceded defeat to the incumbent in France's presidential election.

“The French showed this evening a desire for a strong counterweight against Emmanuel Macron, for an opposition that will continue to defend and protect them,” she told supporters after early projections indicated she had lost the election.

19:20 - European Affairs minister Clement Beaune said that the result of France's presidential election, which saw the far-right win its highest ever score, showed that "we need to continue to work."

19:15 - Cheers break out at the foot of the Eiffel Tower where supporters of President Emmanuel Macron are celebrating his re-election on Sunday, moments after first projections showed he had won the vote by a comfortable margin.

Boos and whistles broke out at the campaign party of his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen.

19:05 - PRELIMINARY RESULT - Macron wins re-election with 58% of the vote, Marine Le Pen with 42%.

18:45 - Polling stations across the country will be fully closed in 15 minutes...

16:00 - The interior ministry has released the latest voter turnout figures at 5 p.m. local time, and we're down by a couple of percent from the 2017 election at this point.

The figures confirmed a trend forecast by experts who said this year's final vote between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen would see the highest abstention level in over 50 years.

15:15 - The first official exit polls should start coming in by 8 p.m. Paris time, once the final stations are closed. But until then, the French media is banned from quoting candidates or discussing polls, to ensure no voter influence occurs.

14:45 - There are almost 49 million registered voters in France, but analysts warn that turnout today could well be lower than in fiurs warned that turnout could be lower than in the first round, with one in four people abstaining from voting.

14:15 - The first figures from Overseas indicate a massive victory for Le Pen in Guadeloupe (69.6% against 30.4% for Macron), in Martinique (60.9% against 39.1 %) and in Guyana (60.7% against 39.3%).




Challenger Marine Le Pen casting her ballot on Sunday. (Twitter/@MLP_officiel)

14:00 - The polling stations opened across France at 8 a.m. local time and will close at 7 p.m., but some city-center stations will be allowed to remain open for another hour.

Turnout by midday local time was just over 26%, which was lower than at the same point in 2017's election. 




France's President and LREM party presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron waves at wellwishers as he leaves after voting for the second round. (AFP)

* With AP, AFP, Reuters

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Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London

Updated 8 sec ago

Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London

Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London
LONDON: A man was remanded in custody Wednesday after appearing in a London court charged with the murder and attempted rape of a woman who had been walking home alone in east London.
It was the latest in a string of similar incidents that have heightened concern over the safety of women and girls on the British capital’s streets.
Jordan McSweeney, 29, is charged with the murder of 35-year-old Zara Aleena, who was attacked after a night out in Ilford in the early hours of Sunday.
McSweeney, who is also charged with attempted rape and robbery, spoke only to confirm his name and details during a brief hearing at the Thames Magistrates’ Court.
In a statement, Aleena’s family mourned her death and called for an end to violence against women. They highlighted the killings of other women who were targeted by strangers in London and elsewhere.
The family expressed sympathy to the families of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and others who were killed in recent months and whose deaths prompted widespread protests calling for more protection for women and girls.
The family said Aleena, a law graduate who was training to become a lawyer, “walked everywhere” and “believed that a woman should be able to walk home.”
“Sadly, Zara is not the only one who has had her life taken at the hands of a stranger. We all know women should be safe on our streets. She was in the heart of her community, 10 minutes from home,” their statement said.
Police said Aleena suffered serious head injuries, confirmed in a post-mortem examination.
McSweeney was denied bail and remanded in custody until he is due to appear at London’s Central Criminal Court on Jul. 27.
A march remembering Aleena is planned in Ilford on Saturday.

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid
Updated 5 min 24 sec ago

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid
  • Japan hopes to strengthen its relations with Sweden further as partners sharing basic values, Kishida added.

MADRID: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio on Wednesday expressed support for Sweden’s bid to join NATO in a meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson, on Wednesday.
“We support (Sweden’s) historic decision. We also express our respect for its efforts,” Kishida told Andersson.
NATO, which opened a two-day summit in Madrid on Wednesday, is expected to grant membership to Sweden and Finland after Turkey switched to support their participation.
Kishida said that Japan and Sweden will hold the presidency of the Group of Seven major powers and the European Union, respectively, next year.
Japan hopes to strengthen its relations with Sweden further as partners sharing basic values, Kishida added.
Andersson expressed gratitude for Japan’s strong action against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.


Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand
Updated 29 June 2022

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand
  • The decision by the Moscow City Court came one day after Ilya Yashin was sentenced

MOSCOW: A court in Moscow on Wednesday rejected a prominent Russian opposition figure’s appeal of the 15-day jail sentence he received on charges of failing to obey police.
The decision by the Moscow City Court, the capital’s highest municipal judicial body, came one day after Ilya Yashin was sentenced.
Yashin, who has publicly criticized Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, was detained late Monday in a Moscow park. Police said he grabbed an officer by his uniform and insulted police, which Yashin denied.
In May, Yashin was ordered to pay 90,000 rubles ($1700) on charges of discrediting the Russian military.
Russia has cracked down on critics of its “special military operation” in Ukraine, A well-known dissident, Vladimir Kara-Murza, was arrested in April and remains jailed while awaiting trial on charges of spreading false information about the military. The offense carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years.


NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says
Updated 29 June 2022

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says
  • The alliance also agreed on a new strategic concept

MADRID: NATO has invited Sweden and Finland to become members of the military alliance, a commununique published by the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday said.
“The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them (the allies) safer, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure,” the communique said, adding that the alliance also agreed a new strategic concept.
The communique described Russia as the “most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security,” a reaction to the massively deteriorated relationship to Russia since its invasion of Ukraine.
The alliance pledged further help to Kyiv and agreed a package of support aimed at modernizing the country’s defense sector.
At the same time, NATO decided to significantly strengthen its own deterrence and defense.
“Allies have committed to deploy additional robust in-place combat-ready forces on our eastern flank, to be scaled up from the existing battlegroups to brigade-size units, where and when required underpinned by credible available reinforcements, prepositioned equipment, and enhanced command and control,” the communique said.
In the communique, the alliance described China as a challenge to NATO’s interests, security and values, and as a country that is seeking to undermine the rules-based international order.


EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products
Updated 29 June 2022

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products
  • A recent commission study showed a 10% increase in sales of heated tobacco products in more than five member nations
  • The ban would cover devices using heated tobacco to produce emissions containing nicotine inhaled by users

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s executive branch on Wednesday proposed a ban on the sale of flavored heated tobacco products as part of its plan to fight cancer.
The European Commission said its proposal comes in response to a significant increase in the volume of such products sold across the 27-nation bloc.
A recent commission study showed a 10 percent increase in sales of heated tobacco products in more than five member nations, while heated tobacco products exceeded 2.5 percent of total sales of tobacco products overall across the region.
The ban would cover devices using heated tobacco to produce emissions containing nicotine inhaled by users. E-cigarettes may contain nicotine, but not tobacco. With traditional cigarettes, users inhale smoke from burning tobacco.
“With nine out of 10 lung cancers caused by tobacco, we want to make smoking as unattractive as possible to protect the health of our citizens and save lives,” said Stella Kyriakides, the commissioner for health and food safety.
According to EU figures, cancer is the second cause of death in the bloc of 450 million residents. There are about 1.3 million cancer deaths and 3.5 million new cases annually in the EU.
An estimated 40 percent of EU citizens will face cancer at some point in their lives, with the annual economic impact estimated at around 100 billion euros ($120 billion).
The European Commission previously said it wanted to ensure that less than 5 percent of the EU population uses tobacco by 2040.
The proposed ban now goes to member nations and European Parliament lawmakers for review.