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POLITICS

Christiane Taubira ‘envisages’ entering French presidential race

A former justice minister under François Hollande appears to have thrown her hat into the ring as a possible candidate in France’s 2022 presidential elections - but only if she can unify the left.

A file photo of French politician Christiane Taubira
Former French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira looks likely to run for the presidency. Photo: Joel Saget / AFP

Christiane Taubira, who was Justice Minister in François Hollande’s government between 2012 and 2016, confirmed in a brief message on her social media platforms that she “plans to be a candidate for the presidential election of the French Republic”.

Her decision has been widely expected for some time, but until now she has refused to be drawn on the subject of a possible run.

But she said she did not intend to run as “another candidate” from the left of the political spectrum. She said that she recognised “the impasse” faced by left-wing candidates in the presidential race. 

Environmentalist candidate Yannick Jadot quickly rejected Taubira’s offer to join her or take part in a primary.

“I invite all progressives, all humanists to come and work with us. I invite them with their history, with their ideas, with their background, with their strength of conviction, with their enthusiasm to work on this great project alternating with an alternative that is ecological, social and democratic,” he said. 

Taubira resigned from office in January 2016 after a public disagreement with then-President Hollande over plans to strip French nationality from dual citizens convicted of terrorist acts. 

She declined calls to run in the Parti Socialiste’s primary for the 2017 presidential election, and endorsed eventual candidate Benoît Hamon in the first round, before calling on the electorate to vote for Emmanuel Macron in the second round.

Member comments

  1. Good luck to her. The splintering of the left-of-centre vote in France (see John Lichfield’s excellent recent article on this) is an absolute tragedy. I doubt Taubira will be able to unify the left but it would be excellent if she could make those precious ideologues see sense, abandon their pathetic bickerings and do something for working people for a change. Anything is better than the car crash we will see when we know the result of the first round of the presidential election: it’s all but certain that the most left-wing candidate on the ticket for the second round will be … Macron.

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POLITICS

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

The final composition of the new French government was announced on Friday. A new investigation suggests that historic rape allegations against a newly appointed minister were ignored.

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

It didn’t take long for scandal to hit the France’s new government.

An investigation by Mediapart published the day after the final list of ministerial positions was announced revealed that two women have accused one of the appointees of rape. 

READ MORE Who’s who in France’s new government?

Damien Abad, the new Solidarity Minister denies the allegations and a police investigation into one allegation was dropped in 2017. But another could be about to open. 

Who is Damien Abad? 

Damien Abad is a 42-year-old son of a miner from Nimes in southern France who became the first handicapped MP to be elected in 2012. He has arthrogryposis, a rare condition that affects the joints.

Prior to his appointment as the Minister for Solidarity, Autonomy and Disabled People, he was the leader of the France’s right-wing Republicans party in the Assemblée nationale

What are the allegations? 

Two alleged victims, who didn’t know each other, told Mediapart that Abad raped them on separate occasions in 2010 and 2011.

The first woman described meeting Abad for dinner after having met him weeks earlier at a wedding. She said she blacked out after one glass of champagne and woke up in her underwear in a hotel bed with Abad the next morning fearing she had been drugged. 

A second woman who lodged a formal charge against Abad in 2017 said that he harassed her by text message for years. She eventually agreed to meet with him one evening. After initially consenting, she told him to stop – but her plea fell on deaf ears as Abad raped her. 

What does Abad have to say? 

The new minister denies the accusations.

“It is physically impossible for me to commit the acts described,” he told Mediapart – in reference to his disability. 

He admitted to sending “sometimes intimate” messages, but said he had “obviously never drugged anyone”. 

“I was able to have adventures, I stand by my claim that they were always consensual.”

Is he under investigation? 

The second alleged victim made a formal allegation against Abad in 2017. 

A subsequent investigation was dropped later that year after a “lack of sufficient evidence was gathered”.

Mediapart report that Abad’s entourage were not questioned by police and that the MP told investigators that he had no memory of the alleged crime. 

The first alleged victim flagged the abuse to the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics – an unofficial watchdog monitoring elected bodies – earlier this month. 

The Observatory has since brought the case to the state prosecutor, but it is unclear if another investigation will be launched.  

Who knew? 

The tone deaf appointment of Gérald Darmanin as Interior Minister in 2020 was controversial because at the time he was under investigation for rape. His nomination was met with street protests in Paris and elsewhere. Feminists accused (and continue to accuse) Emmanuel Macron of not taking sexual violence seriously. 

The investigation into Darmanin’s alleged crime has since been dropped.

Some will question whether the naming of Abad shows that lessons have not been learned. 

“Once again a minister  in the government of Emmanuel Macron accused of rape,” said Caroline De Haas, the founder of the #NousToutes feminist movement. 

The Observatory sent a message warning senior party figures in the Republicans and LREM about the allegations on Monday – prior to Abad’s nomination. 

France’s new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne denied having any knowledge of the warning. 

“I am going to be very clear on all these questions of harassment and sexual violence, there will be no impunity,” she said during a visit to Calvados. 

“If there are new elements, if the courts are summoned, we will accept the consequences.” 

READ MORE Who is Élisabeth Borne, France’s new PM?

The Observatory meanwhile claims it has been ignored. 

“Despite our alerts, Damien Abad who is accused of rape has been named in government. Thoughts and support to the victims,” it tweeted

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