Macron urges French to make ‘right choice’ in election gamble

Macron urges French to make ‘right choice’ in election gamble
Emmanuel Macron with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the 80th anniversary of the massacre of 643 persons by the Nazis at Oradour-sur-Glane, France, June 10, 2024. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 10 June 2024
Follow

Macron urges French to make ‘right choice’ in election gamble

Macron urges French to make ‘right choice’ in election gamble
  • Le Monde: ‘By playing with fire, the head of state could end up by burning himself and dragging the entire country into the fire’
  • Macron appeared unfazed as he visited the southwestern French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, site of a massacre by Nazi soldiers during World War II, together with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said that he was confident French voters would make the “right choice” in snap elections he called after the far right crushed his centrist alliance in Sunday’s EU ballot.
His surprise move came after mainstream centrist parties kept an overall majority in the European Parliament in Sunday’s elections, but the far right notched up a string of high-profile victories in Italy, Austria and France.
In Germany, where the three governing coalition parties also performed dismally, center-left Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman ruled out a snap vote.
Analysts say Macron has taken the risky gamble of dissolving the national parliament in a bid to keep the far-right National Rally (RN) out of power when his second term ends in 2027.
“I am confident in the capacity of the French people to make the right choice for themselves and for future generations,” Macron wrote on X on Monday.
His announcement of elections for a new National Assembly on June 30, with a second round on July 7, has sparked widespread alarm, even from within the ranks of his party.
“By playing with fire, the head of state could end up by burning himself and dragging the entire country into the fire,” Le Monde wrote in an editorial.
Despite the storm of criticism, Macron appeared unfazed on Monday as he visited the southwestern French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, site of a massacre by Nazi soldiers during World War II, together with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Steinmeier said: “Let us never forget the damage done in Europe by nationalism and hate.”
Back in Paris, even some Macron allies expressed dissent over his latest announcement.
Lower-house speaker Yael Braun-Pivet, a senior figure within Macron’s party, indicated that forming a coalition with other parties could have been a better “path.”
“The president believed that this path did not exist,” she told television channel France 2.
Meanwhile, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist, described the prospect of elections just weeks before the start of the Paris Olympics as “extremely unsettling.”
But International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach played down any direct impact on the event.
Uncertainty around the election also sapped market confidence, with Paris’s CAC 40 index closing 1.35 percent lower and the interest rate on French government debt gaining 10 basis points, to 3.22 percent.
In a televised address late on Sunday, Macron warned of the danger of “the rise of nationalists and demagogues” for France and its place in Europe.
He noted that, including the RN, far-right parties in France had managed to take almost 40 percent of the EU Parliament vote.
Macron is hoping to win back the majority he lost in France’s lower house in 2022 legislative elections after winning a second term.
But some fear the anti-immigration RN could instead win, forcing Macron to work in an uncomfortable coalition with a far-right prime minister.
RN vice president Sebastien Chenu said the party’s 28-year-old leader Jordan Bardella would be its contender for the post.
Bardella’s mentor Marine Le Pen, who was runner-up in the last two presidential elections, has remained party leader in parliament and is largely expected to tilt for the top job again in 2027.
The far right came out on top in France, Italy and Austria, and second in Germany and the Netherlands.
The Kremlin, which hopes the far right would take a softer line on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, said it was “attentively observing” the gains.
The RN came in first with more than 31 percent of votes in France — its score was more than double that of Macron’s list with 14 percent.
The Socialists and hard-left France Unbowed trailed behind with 13 and nine percent each.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned that the election results would have “consequences of unprecedented seriousness for our nation.”
The team of Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne, who is also secretary-general of Macron’s Renaissance party, told RTL radio he would be “fully engaged” in the battle for parliament seats as well as his job as minister.
Socialist party chief Olivier Faure called for setting up “a popular front against the far right.”
On the far right, Marion Marechal, deputy head of the Reconquest party founded by pundit Eric Zemmour and seen as even further to the right of the RN, was meeting Marine Le Pen — who is her aunt — and Bardella at the RN headquarters.
Bardella said he had also “stretched out his hand” to the mainstream conservative Republicans party and had spoken with senior members.
Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at Eurasia Group, said Macron appeared to believe he could defy the polls by confronting France with a choice between the pro-European status quo and a far right that has “a history of admiration for — and funding by — Vladimir Putin.”


Cyprus plans to build a major naval base to play a larger geopolitical role, says defense minister

An Open Arms ship and ship Jennifer, of the World Central Kitchen carrying food aid for the Gaza Strip, prepare to set sail.
An Open Arms ship and ship Jennifer, of the World Central Kitchen carrying food aid for the Gaza Strip, prepare to set sail.
Updated 17 July 2024
Follow

Cyprus plans to build a major naval base to play a larger geopolitical role, says defense minister

An Open Arms ship and ship Jennifer, of the World Central Kitchen carrying food aid for the Gaza Strip, prepare to set sail.
  • Cyprus has in recent months been staging ground for collection and delivery of donated humanitarian aid to Gaza
  • Aid is being shipped from the Cypriot port of Larnaca to the Palestinian territory after being security screened

NICOSIA: Cyprus’ defense minister said Wednesday that plans are in motion to build a major naval base on the east Mediterranean island nation’s southern coast capable of hosting large ships from European Union countries and other nations to carry out a variety of missions including humanitarian aid deliveries to the tumultuous Middle East region.
Vasilis Palmas told reporters that Cyprus’ recently elevated geopolitical role as the European Union’s closest member to the Middle East warrants the building of infrastructure that can support policies geared toward the region.
Cyprus has in recent months been the staging ground for the collection and delivery of donated humanitarian aid to war-ravaged Gaza. The aid is being shipped from the Cypriot port of Larnaca to the Palestinian territory after being security screened. Last year, Cyprus served as a waystation for third-country nationals evacuated from Sudan.
Palmas said the construction of the base would “contribute decisively” to policy implementation in the region.
He said Greece is contributing technical know-how to the project, while actual construction will be guided by the findings of an expert study that will be completed in the next few days.
The naval base will be built on an existing naval installation some 25 kilometers (15 miles) east of the coastal town of Limassol, which in 2011 was the site of a huge explosion of 480 tons of seized Iranian gunpowder that killed 13 people, knocked out Cyprus’ main power station and stirred up a political crisis.


190 Russian, Ukrainian prisoners exchanged following UAE mediation efforts

190 Russian, Ukrainian prisoners exchanged following UAE mediation efforts
Updated 17 July 2024
Follow

190 Russian, Ukrainian prisoners exchanged following UAE mediation efforts

190 Russian, Ukrainian prisoners exchanged following UAE mediation efforts

ABU DHABI: The UAE has succeeded in securing the exchange of 190 prisoners of war between Russian and Ukraine, state news agency WAM has reported.

The UAE now secured the release of 1,558 captives with its sixth successful mediation effort between the warring parties, less than one month after the previous exchange process, the report added.

“These efforts reflect the UAE’s commitment to being a reliable mediator supporting diplomacy to resolve the crisis between the two countries,” a statement for the UAE’s foreign ministry said.

The UAE was committed to ‘continuing all efforts and initiatives aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict, stressing the importance of dialogue, and de-escalation, as the only ways to resolve the conflict, and for mitigating its humanitarian repercussions,’ it added.

The UAE also managed to negotiate the exchange of two prisoners between the United States and the Russian Federation in December 2022.


Pakistan summons Taliban envoy after attack on military base

Pakistan summons Taliban envoy after attack on military base
Updated 17 July 2024
Follow

Pakistan summons Taliban envoy after attack on military base

Pakistan summons Taliban envoy after attack on military base

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's foreign ministry summoned the Taliban's deputy head of mission on Wednesday and urged their administration to take action against Afghanistan-based militant groups that Islamabad says attacked a military base this week.
Militants attacked the base in Bannu in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, killing eight Pakistani security force members.


Bangladesh shuts educational institutions after students killed in protests

Bangladesh shuts educational institutions after students killed in protests
Updated 17 July 2024
Follow

Bangladesh shuts educational institutions after students killed in protests

Bangladesh shuts educational institutions after students killed in protests
  • Students say seven killed in overnight clashes with police, government supporters
  • They protest reservation of 30 percent of government jobs for families of 1971 war fighters

DHAKA: Bangladesh indefinitely closed all educational institutions on Wednesday following deadly clashes between students and police, as campus protests against job quotas spread across the country.

Students have been demonstrating at campuses since early July against the government’s quota system, in which 30 percent of public service jobs are reserved for the families of those who fought in Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war.

The students demand the system’s reform and more just distribution of the well-paid public service jobs.

The protests turned violent on Sunday, after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina undermined the cause by suggesting that the demonstrators supported the “razakars,” or those who had collaborated with the Pakistani military — an enemy occupying force — during the 1971 war.

Students denounced the comparison and more of them joined the rallies, where they clashed with members of the youth wing of Hasina’s ruling Awami League party and security forces.

As violence escalated and turned deadly on Tuesday, the Ministry of Education and the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh announced in separate notifications that all secondary educational institutions, universities and medical colleges across the country would remain closed “until further notice” and “for the safety of the students.”

According to local media reports at least six people, including four students, were killed and 400 injured when the clashes broke out in Dhaka, Chottogram, Rajshahi and Rangpur.

Protesters estimate that the actual numbers are even higher.

“More than 1,000 of our protesters were injured during the clashes. Seven died, including one bystander. Just now, we held funeral prayers in absentia for our fellows who lost their lives,” said Mohammad Nahid Islam, coordinator of the Students Against Discrimination group, which is part of the protests in Dhaka.

“Today, police attacked protesting students at the Dhaka University campus with a stun grenade and tear gas shells. Many of our female students became sick and injured ... We are concerned about our security.”

Despite repeated attempts by Arab News, Bangladesh Police did not respond to requests for comment.


Women lawyers top Philippines’ Shariah Bar exams

Women lawyers top Philippines’ Shariah Bar exams
Updated 17 July 2024
Follow

Women lawyers top Philippines’ Shariah Bar exams

Women lawyers top Philippines’ Shariah Bar exams

MANILA: Women have topped this year’s Shariah Bar examinations in the Philippines, with Supreme Court data showing that female examinees not only obtained the best score but also had the highest passing rate.

Shariah, or Islamic law, is partially implemented in the Philippines, applicable only to the Muslim community — about 10 percent of the 120 million of the country’s predominantly Catholic population.

A total of 853 candidates took part in the Shariah Bar exam in April and May, and 183 passed it. More than half of those who passed the exams were women, nine of whom were among the top 10 scorers.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Filomena Singh announced the results on Tuesday, saying that “62.3 percent of the total passers are female. I’m very happy to announce that.”

This year’s exam also saw the “largest number of Shariah Bar examinees we have had in nearly 40 years,” Singh said.

“This is to strengthen and make the Shariah justice system more accessible by encouraging and giving more opportunities to aspiring Shariah councilors.”

Separate from the regular Bar tests for aspiring lawyers, the Shariah Bar exams are the professional licensure examination covering Islamic law for Shariah court councilor candidates.

Established under the 1977 Code of Muslim Personal Laws, the Islamic law courts are under the administrative supervision of the Supreme Court and have jurisdiction over the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region as well as other parts of the southern Mindanao island, which have significant Muslim populations.

The courts have application over personal status law, including marriage, as well as financial laws and halal certification.

The Supreme Court said last year that in its goal to “strengthen the Shariah justice system” under the Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027, it was studying the possibility of expanding the mandate of Islamic courts to cover also criminal and commercial cases.