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What the papers said 23rd July 2018

rfi English, Jul 23

The Benalla scandal spills into Parliament amid mounting allegations of a cover-up by the Elysée palace.

The affair of President Emmanuel Macron's security aide charged over the May Day assault of demonstrator, continues to dominate the news.

Alexandre Benalla was fired on Friday after le Monde first published the video. He has since been charged with gang violence, alongside three high-ranking police officers, suspected of illegally handing Benalla video surveillance footage of the incidents to help him try to clear his name.

The president has yet to comment on the scandal, despite growing charges by the opposition that Macron, who came to power on pledges to restore transparency and integrity, was allegedly trying to cover up the affair.

The arguments brought forward, are that after the rather lenient two-week suspension from active duty, Benalla continued to appear in Macron's security details and was allowed to move into a palatial mansion along the Seine, reserved for Elysee staff and provided with a car and chauffeur.

Le Parisien and a host of other dailies are baffled by President Macron's continued silence as his interior minister Gerard Collomb was to appear before parliament on Monday morning, with some MPs warning they will demand his resignation if he knew about the incident but kept quiet.

"Speechless Macron", headlines Libération. The left-leaning publication goes on to explain in sarcastic terms that the only thing communications strategists at the Elysée Palace can do is hold their breathe and keep Monsieur Macron invisible, with the hope that it can protect the President's image.

"Macron, what a noisy silence from a lonely president", headlines l'Opinion.

Such deafening silence only fuels suspicions, according to le Journal de la Haute-Marne.

For its part, Le Figaro mocks the enthusiasts who rushed to welcome Emmanuel Macron's "exemplary" Presidency.

According to the newspaper, the much-heralded new world Macron promised the French people, is turning into a clone of the old one.

As Le Figaro puts it, for those dreaming about a new Macron impetus and new deal for French politics, the Benalla affair sheds unprecedented light on the real Macron who hasn't changed from the old system of shady secret operations, dark closets, parallel police forces, arbitrary decisions and abuse of office.

"The mask has fallen off and the emperor has new clothes” fumes l'Humanité. The communist newspaper claims it’s the real Macron exposed by the affair is a President who sees himself as being above every one, parliament, the unions, the police and the laws of the land.

"It's no longer a Benalla scandal but a Macron affair", writes le Midi libre. La Charente libre, upholds the opinion that Macron just exposed a very cynical concept of the exercise of power.

According to le Courier picard, what is happening is the return of the era of stinking Republican scandals about privileges for office holders and their friends which the French people thought had disappeared with the new presidency.

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