Terror groups call for Hollande’s assassination

A well-known Al-Qaeda linked website called on "lone wolf" terrorists to assassinate President François Hollande and attack France in revenge for the country’s military interventions in Africa.

Terror groups call for Hollande's assassination
An Islamic extremist group is calling on would-be terrorists to kill the French president. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

The al Minbar Jihadi Media Network created a series of posters aimed at inciting would-be terrorists to take up arms in retaliation to France’s fight against Islamist rebels in Mali and the Central African Republic, according to SITE, an Islamic extremist website monitoring service.

"To our lone-wolves in France, assassinate the president of disbelief and criminality, terrify his cursed government, and bomb them and scare them as a support to the vulnerable in the Central African Republic," one of the posters said, according to Reuters news service.

French officials have not announced whether these threats will draw the type of heavy military response that similar threats drew last year. In January 2013 the French government deployed some 700 soldiers on the streets of Paris after Islamist extremists called for attacks in retaliation to France's intervention in Mali.

The new threats are also spurred by France using its military to check Islamist insurgents in Africa. France has some 2,000 soldiers in the Central African Republic which have helped push back Islamic ‘seleka’ rebels after they seized power a year ago.

Hollande’s government has not set a hard deadline for when it may withdraw its troops. But the president has implied French soldiers will stay until the threat has passed.

In January 2013 France led an attack that pushed back Islamist fighters who had seized control in Northern Mali. Though driven out, the principal groups still carry out occasional attacks and have taken up kidnapping and killing French nationals.

Last year leaders of the militant Islamist groups under attack in the West African state warned that France has "opened the doors of hell" by unleashing its warplanes and called on fellow extremists to hit back on French soil.

France reduced the presence of the military on its streets once it was decided that the threat level had rescinded.

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Here’s the latest in France’s presidential race

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was "impossible" that France could contemplate going its own way.

Here's the latest in France's presidential race
French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in Reunion. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Saturday:

Let them throw eggs

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, under pressure over allegations of fake parliamentary jobs for the family which have hit his poll ratings, received a chaotic reception on a trip to the southern Basque region where some protesters pelted him with eggs.

Fillon, who has accused Hollande of helping foment a smear campaign against him amid claims his wife was on the public payroll but did little for her salary, ran the gauntlet in the small town of Cambo-les-Bains.

Locals demanding an amnesty for radical Basque nationalists banged pots and pans, hurled abuse and objects.

“The more they demonstrate the more the French will back me,” Fillon insisted before meeting with local officials.

Warning on Europe

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was “impossible” that France could contemplate going its own way.

In a barb aimed at far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, Hollande said: “So some want to quit Europe? Well let them show the French people they would be better off alone fighting terrorism without the indispensable European coordination…

“Let them show that without the single currency and (single) market there would be more jobs, activity and better purchasing power,” Hollande said in Rome where he attended the ceremonies marking the EU's 60th anniversary.

Le Pen, favoured in opiniion polls to reach the second-round run-off vote in May, wants France to dump the euro, but Hollande said that would lead to devaluation and loss of purchasing power as he warned against nationalist populism.

'Not Father Christmas'

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, seen in polls as beating Marine Le Pen in the May 7 run-off, was in Reunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, where alongside discussing local issues, he told voters he was “not Father Christmas.”

“I don't have the solution to all problems and I am not Father Christmas,” the 39-year-old former economy minister and banker admitted, saying he had not come to make “promises.”

He indicated he would focus on education as a priority on an island where around one in five youths are illiterate.