Chief correspondent, West and Central Africa
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Jan 12, 2014

France’s Hollande has tight window to step up reform pace

PARIS (Reuters) – The coming weeks will tell whether Francois Hollande can pick up the pieces of his accident-prone presidency and start to pull the euro zone’s second-largest economy out of decline. It may be his last chance to do so.

The new year could hardly have started worse for the French leader, who failed to keep a promise to the nation to halt the rise in unemployment by the end of 2013 and is now dealing with media allegations of a secret love affair.

Jan 9, 2014

France’s National Front readies mass showing for local vote

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s anti-immigrant National Front will field candidates in a record 500 towns in March’s municipal elections in a bid to break the dominance of mainstream parties in town halls, FN leader Marine Le Pen said on Thursday.

The party is hoping to capitalise on broad disillusionment with President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government and the main conservative opposition to make gains both in the local vote and European Parliament elections two months later.

Jan 7, 2014

French cities ban comedian accused of anti-Semitic jibes

PARIS (Reuters) – Mayors of several French cities lined up on Tuesday to ban the shows of a comedian the government accuses of insulting the memory of Holocaust victims and threatening public order with anti-Semitic jibes.

The mayor of Tours barred a performance by Dieudonne M’bala M’bala set for Friday in the central French city, following mayors of Marseille and Bordeaux who late on Monday announced bans on his tour due to start this week.

Dec 31, 2013

French priest kidnapped in Cameroon set free

PARIS/YAOUNDE (Reuters) – A French Catholic priest kidnapped in northern Cameroon last month was released on Monday and said he had spent the weeks pacing his tent prison, torn by a mixture of boredom and anger.

France said it had not paid any ransom for his release.

The November 13 kidnapping of Georges Vandenbeusch, 42, was one of a series of attacks on French targets in Africa since France launched a military intervention in Mali in January to oust al Qaeda Islamists who had forged links with Boko Haram militants.

Nov 25, 2013

Insight: Weak at home, France seeks grandeur abroad

PARIS (Reuters) – The hero of France’s top movie comedy of the moment is a French foreign minister who complains about American isolationism and says the Germans must be humored – but above all kept off the U.N. Security Council.

One reason for the box-office success of “Quai d’Orsay” – named after the 19th century palace by the River Seine where France conducts its world affairs – is how closely it flirts with real-life policy.

Nov 25, 2013

Weak at home, France seeks grandeur abroad

PARIS, Nov 25 (Reuters) – The hero of France’s top movie
comedy of the moment is a French foreign minister who complains
about American isolationism and says the Germans must be
humoured – but above all kept off the U.N. Security Council.

One reason for the box-office success of “Quai d’Orsay” -
named after the 19th century palace by the River Seine where
France conducts its world affairs – is how closely it flirts
with real-life policy.

Sep 29, 2013

Ruling French coalition split over Roma ejection call

PARIS, Sept 29 (Reuters) – President Francois Hollande is
battling to heal a rift in his ruling coalition over treatment
of France’s Roma population after his interior minister said
most of them should leave France.

Manuel Valls enraged left-wingers in Hollande’s government
this week by arguing that the vast majority of 20,000 Roma
living in makeshift camps outside French cities could never be
integrated into society and so should be “taken back to the
border” for transfer back to Romania and Bulgaria.

Sep 10, 2013

Syria prompts Europe to question U.S. leadership will

PARIS (Reuters) – The United States’ uncertainty over how to respond to a deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria has left close European allies wondering whether Washington remains ready to play the world leadership role it has long assumed.

Yet while the hesitations are creating political headaches for governments in Britain and France that advocated strikes, less interventionist capitals including Berlin are relieved to be dealing with a less hawkish U.S. administration than those which pushed the case for war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sep 10, 2013

France to propose U.N. resolution on Syria chemical weapons

PARIS/BEIRUT (Reuters) – France is to put forward a U.N. Security Council draft resolution for Syria to give up its chemical weapons, quickly turning a Russian idea into a full-blown diplomatic proposal that could avert Western military strikes.

The French draft would threaten “extremely serious” consequences if Syria violates the conditions for giving up its chemical weapons, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday.

Aug 5, 2013

How France’s Hollande plans to win his bet on jobs

PARIS (Reuters) – Defying all predictions by the IMF, the European Commission and the bulk of private economists, President Francois Hollande is still banking on a turnaround in French unemployment by the end of the year.

Not only that, he has upped the stakes by making it the top political priority of his Socialist government. “I will be judged on it,” he told the nation in a Bastille Day television interview last month.

    • About Mark

      "Based in Dakar, I look after the Reuters file in West and Central Africa, except for Nigeria. Previously I covered politics and economics in Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt and London."
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