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What the weeklies said 19th August 2018

LanguedocLiving, Aug 19

Ivorian President Alassane Dramane Ouattara frees former first lady Simone Gbagbo in a calculated political gamble; Monsanto faces bankruptcy, after record-breaking Roundup cancer fine; and Turkey's free raid on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We begin with insightful comments in this week's L'Express about the amnesty granted to former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo, who had been serving a 20-year jail term for allegedly endangering state security.

The 69-year-old, who spent seven years in detention, was one of around 800 supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo set free in the name of national reconciliation by President Ouattara.

L'Express says Ms Gbagbo is “as free as a bird” after she told thousands of supporters gathered outside her Abidjan home to turn the page and look to the future.

The right-wing publication wonders if the unpredictable Gbagbo will dive back into the electoral cauldron, or rather spend time reviving her deep spiritual life and writing her memoirs.

L'Express writes that whatever choices she may end up making, the no-nonsense, acrimonious and vindictive woman of steel - who co-founded the Popular Ivorian Front alongside her husband -- could take advantage of Ouattara’s calculated move to reunite her husband's party ahead of the 2020 Ivorian presidential elections.

Monsanto recap

This week's L'Obs lines up 10 things you need to know about Dewayne Johnson. He’s the dying Californian groundskeeper awarded 253 million euros in damages by a US court. The sum is to be paid by chemical giant Monsanto for failing to warn Johnson that its weedkiller Roundup might cause cancer.

The left-leaning magazine reports that Johnson was diagnosed in 2014 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that affects white blood cells, after he repeatedly used a professional grade of Roundup while working as a school’s groundskeeper.

According to l’Obs, the lawsuit and Monsanto's defeat will likely trigger a cascade of new cases and open the door to hundreds of other claims against the company, including in France where the courts have thrown out a similar case filed by farmer Paul François.

Marianne for its part says it expects the worst for glyphosate, the weedkiller’s main ingredient. It’s at the centre of a growing controversy in France and Europe after Johnson's lawyers obtained hundreds of secret Monsanto documents in which doubts surface about the product's safety.

Turkish influence

Le Point investigates Turkey's free raid on Bosnia and Herzegovina, as Ankara's strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan exploits the country's economic fragility to extend his country's geopolitical influence.

The weekly describes the relationship between Erdogan and the family of Bosnian Chairman of the Presidency Bakir Izetbegovic as having the semblance of a blood pact, after Bakir addressed him as not only Turkey's President but as that of Bosnia as well.

Le Point recalls an amazing story, repeatedly told even in official circles in Sarajevo, that Izetbegovic’s father Alija - the first president of independent Bosnia and Herzegovina – had asked to see Erdogan when he lay dying in bed in 2013. “I confide my country to you and it’s up to you to protect it”, the frail Bosnian leader allegedly pleaded.

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