Macron warns far-right, hard-left policies could lead to ‘civil war’

France’s President Emmanuel Macron looks on prior to a meeting with NATO’S Secretary General at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris on June 24, 2024. (AFP)
France’s President Emmanuel Macron looks on prior to a meeting with NATO’S Secretary General at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris on June 24, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 24 June 2024
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Macron warns far-right, hard-left policies could lead to ‘civil war’

Macron warns far-right, hard-left policies could lead to ‘civil war’
  • French politics were plunged into turmoil by Macron calling snap legislative elections after his centrist party was trounced by the far-right National Rally (RN)

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron on Monday warned that the policies of his far-right and hard-left opponents could lead to “civil war,” as France prepared for its most divisive election in decades.
French politics were plunged into turmoil by Macron calling snap legislative elections after his centrist party was trounced by the far-right National Rally (RN) in a European vote earlier this month.
Weekend polls suggested the RN would win 35-36 percent in the first round on Sunday, ahead of a left-wing alliance on 27-29.5 percent and Macron’s centrists in third on 19.5-22 percent.
A second round of voting will follow on July 7 in constituencies where no candidate takes more than 50 percent in the first round.
Speaking on the podcast “Generation Do It Yourself,” Macron, 46, denounced both the RN as well as the hard-left France Unbowed party.
He said the far-right “divides and pushes toward civil war,” while the hard-left France Unbowed party, which is part of the New Popular Front alliance, proposes “a form of communitarianism,” adding that “civil war follows on from that, too.”
Earlier Monday, French far-right leader Jordan Bardella said his RN party was ready to govern as he pledged to curb immigration and tackle cost-of-living issues.
“In three words: we are ready,” Bardella, the RN’s 28-year-old president told a news conference as he unveiled his party’s program.
Bardella, credited with helping the RN clean up its extremist image, has urged voters to give the euroskeptic party an outright majority to allow it to implement its anti-immigration, law-and-order program.
“Seven long years of Macronism has weakened the country,” he said, vowing to boost purchasing power, “restore order” and change the law to make it easier to deport foreigners convicted of crimes.
He reiterated plans to tighten borders and make it harder for children born in France to foreign parents to gain citizenship.
Bardella added that the RN would focus on “realistic” measures to curb inflation, primarily by cutting energy taxes.
He also promised a disciplinary “big bang” in schools, including a ban on mobile phones and trialling the introduction of school uniforms, a proposal previously put forward by Macron.
Prime Minister Gabriel Attal of Macron’s Renaissance party poured scorn on the RN’s economic program, telling Europe 1 radio the country was “headed straight for disaster” in the event of an RN victory.
On Tuesday, Attal will go head-to-head with Bardella in a TV debate.
On foreign policy, Bardella said the RN opposed sending French troops and long-range missiles to Ukraine — as mooted by Macron — but would continue to provide logistical and material support.
He added that his party, which had close ties to Russia before its invasion of Ukraine, would be “extremely vigilant” in the face of Moscow’s attempts to interfere in French affairs.
Macron insisted that France would continue to support Ukraine over the long term as he met with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
“We will continue to mobilize to respond to Ukraine’s immediate needs,” he said alongside Stoltenberg at the Elysee Palace.
The election is shaping up as a showdown between the RN and the leftist New Popular Front, which is dominated by the hard-left France Unbowed.
Bardella claimed the RN, which mainstream parties have in the past united to block, was now the “patriotic and republican” choice faced with what he alleged was the anti-Semitism of Melenchon’s party.
France Unbowed, which opposes Israel’s war in Gaza and refused to label the October 7 Hamas attacks as “terrorism,” denies the charges of anti-Semitism.
In calling an election in just three weeks Macron hoped to trip up his opponents and catch them unprepared.
But analysts have warned the move could backfire if the deeply unpopular president is forced to share power with a prime minister from an opposing party.
RN powerhouse Marine Le Pen, who is bidding to succeed Macron as president, has called on him to step aside if he loses control of parliament.
Macron has insisted he will not resign before the end of his second term in 2027 but has vowed to heed voters’ concerns.
Speaking on Monday, Macron once again defended his choice to call snap elections.
“It’s very hard. I’m aware of it, and a lot of people are angry with me,” he said on the podcast.
“But I did it because there is nothing greater and fairer in a democracy than trust in the people.”


Pakistan police arrest acting chairman of jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s party

Pakistan police arrest acting chairman of jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s party
Updated 1 sec ago
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Pakistan police arrest acting chairman of jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s party

Pakistan police arrest acting chairman of jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s party

KARACHI: Pakistani police have arrested Gohar Ali Khan, the acting chairman of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, an official of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party said on Monday.


More than 500 arrested in Bangladesh capital over violence: police

More than 500 arrested in Bangladesh capital over violence: police
Updated 28 min 55 sec ago
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More than 500 arrested in Bangladesh capital over violence: police

More than 500 arrested in Bangladesh capital over violence: police
  • Detainees include the opposition Bangladesh National Party’s third-most senior leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury

DHAKA: More than 500 people, including some opposition leaders, have been arrested over days of clashes in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka sparked by protests against job quotas, police said Monday.
“At least 532 people have been arrested over the violence,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Faruk Hossain said.
“They include some BNP leaders,” he added, referring to the opposition Bangladesh National Party.
The detainees included the BNP’s third-most senior leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury and its spokesman Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed, he said.
A former national football captain turned senior BNP figure, Aminul Huq, was also held, he added.
Mia Golam Parwar, the general secretary of the country’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, was also arrested, Hossain said.
He said at least three policemen had been killed during the unrest in the capital and about 1,000 injured, at least 60 of them critically.
BNP spokesman A.K.M Wahiduzzaman said that nationwide, “several hundred BNP leaders and activists were arrested in the past few days.”


Diplomats confront Bangladesh FM over violence

Diplomats confront Bangladesh FM over violence
Updated 35 min 20 sec ago
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Diplomats confront Bangladesh FM over violence

Diplomats confront Bangladesh FM over violence
  • At least 163 people have been killed in what began as movement against politicized quota for government jobs 
  • US ambassador accuses Bangladesh foreign minister of presenting “one-sided” version of events, says diplomatic source 

DHAKA: Diplomats in Dhaka questioned Bangladeshi authorities’ deadly response to widespread student protests following a presentation by the foreign minister that laid the blame for recent violence at demonstrators’ feet, diplomatic officials said Monday.

What began as a movement against politicized admission quotas for sought-after government jobs has snowballed into some of the worst unrest of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s tenure, with at least 163 people killed in clashes so far, according to an AFP count of victims reported by police and hospitals.

Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud summoned ambassadors for a briefing Sunday and showed them a 15-minute video that sources said focused on damage caused by protesters.

But a senior diplomatic official in Dhaka, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP on Monday that US ambassador Peter Haas said Mahmud was presenting a one-sided version of events.

“I am surprised you did not show the footage of police firing at unarmed protesters,” the source quoted Haas as telling the minister.

The source added that Mahmud also did not respond to a question from a United Nations representative about the alleged use of UN-marked armored personnel carriers and helicopters — which the country has in its military inventories — to suppress the protests.

The meeting came after Bangladesh’s top court pared back the hiring quotas for highly desirable government jobs that have been at the center of the protests.

The decision curtailed the number of reserved jobs from 56 percent of all positions to seven percent, most of which will still be set aside for the children and grandchildren of “freedom fighters” from Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.

While the decision represented a substantial reduction to the contentious “freedom fighter” category, it fell short of protesters’ demands to scrap it altogether.

Critics say the quota has been used to stack public jobs with loyalists to Hasina’s ruling Awami League.

A spokesman for Students Against Discrimination, the main group organizing the demonstrations, told AFP: “We won’t call off our protests until the government issues an order reflecting our demands.”

Hasina, 76, has ruled the country since 2009 and won her fourth consecutive election in January after a vote without genuine opposition.

Since the crackdown on protests began, some demonstrators have said they will not be satisfied until Hasina’s government steps down.


Russia downs 75 Ukraine drones, some near Tuapse oil refinery

Russia downs 75 Ukraine drones, some near Tuapse oil refinery
Updated 22 July 2024
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Russia downs 75 Ukraine drones, some near Tuapse oil refinery

Russia downs 75 Ukraine drones, some near Tuapse oil refinery
  • Russian defense ministry did not say whether its defense systems destroyed the drones, or whether the attack had caused any damage
  • Russian officials rarely disclose the full extent of damage inflicted by Ukrainian attacks

Russia’s air defense systems destroyed 75 drones launched by Ukraine overnight, including eight near the town of Tuapse on the Black Sea where Russia’s oil major Rosneft has a refinery, the Russian defense ministry said on Monday.
Forty-seven drones were downed over the Rostov region in Russia’s southwest, 17 over the waters of the Black and Azov seas, eight over the Krasnodar region, where Tuapse is located, and single drones over the Belgorod, Voronezh and Smolensk region, the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.
The ministry did not say whether its defense systems destroyed the drones, or whether the attack had caused any damage.
Sergei Boiko, head of the Tuapse district in the Krasnodar region, said on Telegram infrastructure and residential buildings had not been damaged.
Russian officials rarely disclose the full extent of damage inflicted by Ukrainian attacks. The Tuapse refinery has been a target of several Ukrainian air attacks since the start of the war that Russia launched against its smaller neighbor in 2022.
Russia’s SHOT and Mash Telegram news channels reported that a series of blasts were heard near the refinery early Monday.
Reuters could not independently verify the Russian reports. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. Kyiv has often said that the attacks on Russia’s military, energy and transport infrastructure are in response to Russia’s continuous attacks on Ukraine’s territory.


Fire-hit tanker enters Malaysia terminal area after being detained by coast guard

Fire-hit tanker enters Malaysia terminal area after being detained by coast guard
Updated 22 July 2024
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Fire-hit tanker enters Malaysia terminal area after being detained by coast guard

Fire-hit tanker enters Malaysia terminal area after being detained by coast guard
  • The supertanker Ceres I left the scene of a fiery collision with another tanker
  • Singapore is Asia’s biggest oil-trading hub and the world’s largest bunkering port

SINGAPORE: A tanker that was involved in a collision near Singapore last week entered the area of Malaysia’s Bertam floating oil terminal on Monday morning after it was intercepted by local authorities on Sunday, shipping data from LSEG and Kpler showed.
The Sao Tome and Principe-flagged supertanker Ceres I left the scene of a fiery collision with another tanker, the Singapore-flagged Hafnia Nile, on Friday.
The Ceres I was found in Malaysian waters with two tugboats towing it, the coast guard said in a statement on Sunday.
The Ceres I and the two tugboats have been detained by the coast guard for further investigation, it said.
The Bertam floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) terminal is located in the South China Sea off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
The Ceres I is a very large crude carrier (VLCC) supertanker capable of carrying around 2 million barrels of oil. AIS data on LSEG showed that Ceres I is empty.
Ceres I has loaded crude and fuel oil from Iran and Venezuela through ship-to-ship transfers between 2019 and March 2024, Kpler data showed.
Shanghai Prosperity Ship Management is the manager of the Ceres I, according to LSEG data. The company could not be immediately reached for comment.
Separately, Hafnia, the manager of Hafnia Nile, said over the weekend it was in discussions with Malaysian authorities to safely move the vessel.
The Hafnia Nile, a 74,000-deadweight-tons capacity Panamax tanker, was carrying about 300,000 barrels naphtha for Japan, according to ship-tracking data from Kpler and LSEG. Naphtha is a raw material for making petrochemicals.
Singapore is Asia’s biggest oil-trading hub and the world’s largest bunkering port. Its surrounding waters are among the busiest global sea lanes.
Malaysia’s coast guard said on Sunday that aerial surveys conducted by the coast guard found minor traces of an oil spill at the location of the collision between the Ceres I and the Hafnia Nile, which occurred in the waters about 55 km (35 miles) northeast of the Singaporean island of Pedra Branca.
“The environment department has been informed and will conduct further monitoring,” it said.