Macron says keeping Assad in power would be a ‘disastrous mistake’

admin   •   August 28, 2018   •   1903

 

French President Emmanuel Macron. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Macron said on Monday (August 27) keeping Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria would be a “disastrous mistake,” although it was not France’s duty to assign the country’s future leader.

“Who provoked the flow of these millions of refugees?” Macron said during a speech at a Paris conference of ambassadors. “Who massacred his own people? It is not for France to designate Syria’s future leader, no more than any other country. But it is our task and in our interest to make sure that the Syrian people are well in a position to do it.”

The Syrian conflict, which has killed 300,000 people and pushed 5.6 million Syrian refugees towards neighboring countries and Europe, has turned into a war of attrition as the regime tries to contain rebels and extremists.

Assad’s regime has taken back control of most of the territory except for the province of Idlib, the remaining refuge of rebels and the Islamic State.

On Libya, Macron said it was France’s role to move forward a Paris accord to secure reunification in the country, which he said was an “essential factor for the stability of the region.”

In May, the four principal actors in Libya’s political crisis convened in Paris to put in place a constitutional foundation for elections and to adopt electoral laws for the December 10 polls.  — Reuters

Gov’t vows justice for MILF fighters slain by local terrorist group

Robie de Guzman   •   October 8, 2019

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – The government on Monday vowed to bring to justice the perpetrators of an attack that killed seven members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In a statement, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. expressed his apologies and sympathies to the families of the former MILF combatants who were slain by an attack claimed to have been carried out by an Islamic State (IS)-linked terror group.

“In solidarity with the leadership of the MILF, the government will assist in every way possible the families of these slain MILF fighters,” Galvez said.

“We will exert all efforts to make sure that justice will be served to the perpetrators of this dastardly act,” he added.

The MILF members were killed after the IS-linked group, Turayfe-Dawla group attacked their camp near Shariff Saydona in Maguindanao last week.

The Turayfe-Dawla is a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters which opposes the peace agreement that the MILF signed with the government.

Galvez said the attack demonstrates the “brutality of these terror groups, and the violent methods they will utilize to sow fear, anger, and discord among the populace.”

“Their twisted ideology does not recognize ethnicity nor religion. They have no place in a humane, peaceful society,” he added.

The Cabinet official further said the government recognizes the gallantry of these former MILF fighters who fought against the terror group.

“For us, they are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice so that their people can live in peace,” he said.

In the previous weeks, the MILF began the decommissioning of its weapons and combatants as part of the peace treaty they forged with the government aimed at ending the decades-long separatist insurgency in Mindanao.

During the second phase of the decommissioning held in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao last month, thousands of weapons were turned over to the government.

Decommissioned MILF fighters also received socio-economic assistance.

“As we sympathize with our Moro brothers and sisters for their loss, I would like to call on the Filipino to unite so that we can address the roots of violent extremism, and bring enduring and long-lasting peace to our nation,” Galvez said.

Remains of Pinay killed in France returns home

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2019

The remains of Janice Cabardo Badr had returned home.

Janice’s remains arrived on Sunday afternoon (October 6) in Panabo City, Davao, a few weeks after she was killed by her husband, Christophe Badr in Maisons-Lafitte in France on September 20.

READ: Kin of Pinay killed in France calls for justice

A funeral service is being held for her at Sta. Teresita Funeral Homes in Panobo City.

According to Janice’s father, Losito Cabardo, the hearing for the custody of their 18-month-old granddaughter who is still in France is scheduled on Monday (October 7).

He is also asking for assistance so they can take their granddaughter home.

Baka patayin na naman niya ang anak niya pagkatapos ng ginawa niya sa asawa niya kaya ang gusto namin mangyari dito ang apo ko sa amin (He [Badr] might kill his daughter too like what he did to his wife. We want our granddaughter to come home with us),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

Former French president Jacques Chirac dies at 86

Robie de Guzman   •   September 26, 2019

Former French President Jacques Chirac

France’s former president Jacques Chirac died on Thursday (September 26) at the age of 86.

He was a charismatic figure who dominated French politics for decades and stirred national pride with his opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Chirac, whose film-star looks helped him emerge as a political prodigy in the 1960s and go on to become France’s second-longest-serving president, had long suffered from neurological problems and was rarely seen in public in recent times.

His popularity was based on symbolic gestures and his dignified demeanour after he abandoned a short-lived attempt at reforms early in his 1995-2007 presidency when it triggered a national strike.

Perhaps his most enduring political legacy was to found the forerunner of the opposition UMP party.

Nicknamed Houdini because of his knack for wriggling out of tight spots, Chirac’s reputation even survived a conviction for misuse of public funds in December, which made him the first head of state convicted since Nazi collaborator Marshal Philippe Petain in 1945.

For many, Chirac’s statesmanlike but jocular air personified a vision of France – encapsulating both its rural roots and its central role in diplomatic affairs envisaged by President Charles de Gaulle.

Even after retiring from public office, Chirac drew crowds of journalists and admirers.

One of his last public appearances was at an award ceremony given by his charitable foundation.

The frenetic energy and brashness of his successor Nicolas Sarkozy left many pining for the quieter days of Chirac’s 12-year presidency and the slower pace he set for public life.

Following in the footsteps of de Gaulle, Chirac devoted much of his presidency to defending France’s role as a great nation on the world stage — a worldview he consecrated by opposing the invasion of Iraq at the U.N. Security Council in 2003.

But in France, where Chirac was sometimes best known through his persona as a puppet on a popular TV show, he is also remembered for personality quirks like a taste for Mexican Corona beer, poor command of English and his seeming aloofness.

Chirac’s persona was also a puzzle: he enjoyed Asian art and Japanese poetry but liked to play down his intellectual side.

A commentator once described him as the kind of man who would read a book of poetry behind a copy of Playboy.

Born in 1932 to a middle-class family from the rural central French region of Correze, Chirac began his political career in the late 1950’s after studying at the elite Sciences Po university and ENA civil service academy.

As a teenager, he briefly sold the communist newspaper L’Humanite on Paris street corners.

He also developed an enduring love of America, crossing the country doing odd jobs – including a spell of washing dishes.

Yet his early leanings seemed forgotten when he became an army officer and linked up with the ultra-nationalist Algerie Francaise party – only to change tack again to become a moderate Gaullist and, by 1967, an ambitious junior minister.

He rose fast but also made enemies equally quickly.

He ripped apart the old Gaullist movement in 1974, backing non-Gaullist moderniser Valery Giscard d’Estaing for president.

Chirac was just 41 when Giscard made him prime minister on May 28, 1974 after winning power, but he quit two years later after falling out with Giscard over the extent of his powers.

He dramatically turned his back on Giscard by forming a new Gaullist party of his own, the Rally for the Republic (RPR) in 1976, which then become the Union for a Popular Majority (UMP).

The following year he was elected as Paris’ first mayor — starting an 18-year career at City Hall that would come back to haunt him.

After nearly two decades of investigations, he was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence last year for channelling public money into phantom jobs for political cronies as mayor from 1977 to 1995.

Though eventually convicted, Chirac was excused from attending the trial due to his failing memory.

Supporters would prefer that he be remembered for electoral victories in 1995 and 2002, when he was re-elected after a fraught head-to-head battle with far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen that sent shockwaves through the country.

He secured a landslide victory in that election but that was more vote against Le Pen than a resounding vote of confidence.

Though President Georges Pompidou once referred to him as “bulldozer” for his ability to get things done, Chirac’s presidency is remembered mostly as a time of stasis.

He ended compulsory military service and started moves that reintegrated France into the NATO defence alliance, reversing a policy set in the 1960s.

He sought as president to reduce unemployment and cut public debt, and steered France into Europe’s monetary union, but did little to modernise the economy or the state.

At one time a lover of all things American, he later led France’s opposition to the U.S.-led Iraq war in 2003 which chilled relations with Washington.

Once an anti-European Gaullist, he became one of Europe’s main standard bearers.

He forged an alliance with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder which brought Europe’s two traditional powers closer together but upset some of their European Union partners.

His changing political views earned him nicknames such as Chameleon Bonaparte and the Weathervane.

He is, however, acknowledged as the first French head of state to recognise the role of the Vichy regime in the Holocaust and the first to apologise formally to the Jewish people.

After leaving the Elysee in 2007, he lived a quiet life, living with his wife on Paris’ Quai Voltaire in an apartment loaned by Lebanon’s Hariri family, and working on his memoirs, the second volume of which appeared last summer. (Reuters)

(Production: Ardee Napolitano)

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