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French press review 7 February 2014

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The ugly face of the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) takes centre stage in the French press this morning as several papers publish a gruesome photograph of a suspected spy from the disbanded mainly Moslem Séléka rebellion lynched right in front of UN troops in Bangui.


Le Figaro reports that the stabbing and execution of the Muslim man on Wednesday by the regular army on the grounds of a military parade in the capita, under the watch of the UN Misca force has dashed hopes for appeasing the religious communities involved in the factional violence in the CAR.

Dossier: Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution

Le Monde reports that the man was still alive when Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza left the grounds of the parade. According to the paper some 50 Central African soldiers surrounded the man, kicking him with their boots, one of them delivering the fatal blow to his skull with a big stone. For Le Monde, the fury and savagery exhibited by the soldiers paints a bleak picture of the future national army the government desperately needs to pacify the war-ravaged country.

Aujourd’hui en France celebrates Tunisia’s rather successful Arab Spring three years after the overthrow of veteran dictator Zine el Abedin Ben Ali. The country has been tempted by Islamism but appears to have turned away from it.  French President François Hollande flies to Tunis to attend today’s ceremony at the National Assembly to adopt a new constitution set to lead the north African nation back to democracy.

The paper holds that the basic law is a source of great relief for Tunisia’s women, as their country becomes the first Arab nation to enshrine gender equality in its constitution. The paper, however, warns that, while the Islamists have agreed to step down, it is not certain they have given up the ambition to hold power.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Libération is all about French mayors and their desperation to cling to power as the country goes to the polls for local elections in 50 days' time. The paper profiles the incumbents who are ready to do whatever it takes to keep their elected positions, despite a law banning the holding of multiple elected positions.

Le Monde welcomes the destruction of France’s three tonnes of illegally acquired stocks of ivory during a media event in Paris Thursday. The paper says the grinding of the elephant tusks is a first in Europe and a symbolic move to stem the tide of continued international trafficking by contraband networks working with rebel and Islamist groups operating in the continent.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 elephants have been massacred in Africa, with 17,000 over the past three years alone, according to the International Wild Life Protection Union.

With just hours to go before the official opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics Aujourd’hui en France profiles the 116 athletes who will be flying the French flag at the games. Their mission in the Russian Red Sea resort, according to the paper, is to beat the all-time 11 gold French record set in Vancouver in 2010.

The Sports daily L’Equipe says 15 medals won’t be a bad harvest at all for Team France. Its special supplement is entirely  devoted to show-casing the French stars to watch.

The Sochi Olympics, costing around 37 billion euros, are the most expensive ever organised and constitute a high-risk gamble for Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to L’Humanité. The French Communist Party daily believes Putin is banking on the mammoth project to reassert his authority over his country.