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What the papers said 30th July 2018

rfi English, Jul 30

France faces high-risk presidential elections in Mali, disrupted by armed groups while Robert Mugabe calls for defeat of the party he led for 37 years.

Sunday's chaotic presidential elections in Mali are a major concern to the commentators who react to the disruption of the process in areas already beset by deadly ethnic and jihadist violence.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 73, leads a crowded field of 24 candidates -- including one woman, as he bids for re-election to the post he has held since 2013.

Le Parisien reports that despite the deployment of over 30,000 security personnel, armed groups severely disrupted voting in the central region of the country where election officials were assaulted, and electoral material destroyed, forcing officials to close 105 polling stations.

L'Union describes the situation in Mali as hopeless, the central government in Bamako has lost control of two- thirds of the country despite the deployment of the 4.500-strong French Barkhane military mission.

According to the newspaper, 14 French soldiers have been killed in combat, since 2014 when French troops were rushed into the Sahel country to prevent its take-over by Jihadist militants.

Sud-Ouest for its part, regrets that the country's situation has been worsened by corruption and nepotism under President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, to a point that the incumbent IBK who was President Francois Hollande's protégé, is no longer in France's good books.

In the regional newspaper's opinion, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s bad faith in the application of the Algiers accord signed in 2015 is also getting on the nerves of the French government.

Sud-Ouest voices skepticism over his prospects of being beaten and about whether any of his challengers can do better. One thing is certain, it explains - the disheartening likelihood that French soldiers who were supposed to remain in Mali for a few months in 2013, are obliged to stay there for longer than anyone can predict.

Le Figaro spotlights the July 30 general elections in Zimbabwe with 23 candidates including the incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa in the race for the country's highest office.

The paper says the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Nelson Chamisa is probably playing its last card in the battle to defeat the ruling ZANU/PF movement, which has been in power since independence.

According to Le Figaro, 94 year-old former President Robert Mugabe invited himself to the general elections campaign on Sunday, by calling for the defeat of the party he led for more than 37 years.

The publication notes that the oldest Head of State on the Planet was forced to step down while trying to hand over power to his wife Grace Mugabe.

L'Humanité revisits the Benalla affair which has shown no signs of abating despite President Emmanuel Macron's attempt to dismiss the manhandling of a May Day demonstrator in Paris by his body guard as "a storm in a teacup".

This was despite the fact that the Paris prosecutor has opened a preliminary inquiry into the allegations of assault and impersonating a police officer filed against Alexandre Benalla.

Revelations that top officials in Macron's office knew about the incident but did not report him to prosecutors have prompted accusations of an attempted cover-up, with the heads of the main opposition rightwing Republicans, in parliament accusing Macron of displaying arrogance in his response, and of "monarchical leanings".

The Communist daily says it is enraging to watch Benalla as he goes around from one TV station to another, to give his own account of the affair. Only the privileged from Macron's inner circle can afford the luxury of evading prosecution after such violent conduct, observes l'Humanité.

According to the newspaper, it is because of such abuse of power by the executive that motions of no confidence will be tabled in Parliament this Tuesday, one by the conservative Republicans and another by a coalition of leftists comprising the Socialist and Communists and Indignants.

For l'Humanité, it was past time to restore the dignity of Parliament flouted by "overzealous Elysée networks operating at the National Assembly".

Several regional newspapers react to the black weekend experienced by thousands of travellers heading off on their holidays after a major fire on an electrical sub station outside Paris shut down traffic just before noon at Montparnasse, the main station connecting Paris to west and southwest France.

Charente Libre attributes the travel chaos at the rail transporter to what it claims are delayed strategic investments which the debt-ridden company should have carried out on its ageing network.

Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace warns train users to expect more travel nightmare when the SNCF finally embarks in revamping its network arguing that the more constructions that will open, the more there will be traffic delays and problematic services.

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