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CORSICA

Riots shake Corsica over assault of jailed nationalist figure

Violent clashes broke out between protesters and police overnight on France's Mediterranean island of Corsica as anger intensified over the assault in prison of a nationalist figure.

Riots shake Corsica over assault of jailed nationalist figure
Protests in Ajaccio in support of jailed Corsican nationalist Yvan Colonna turned violent. (Photo: Pascal Pochard-Casabianca / AFP)

Yvan Colonna, who is serving a life sentence for the assassination in 1998 of Corsica’s top regional official, Claude Erignac, is currently in a coma after being beaten on March 2nd by a fellow detainee serving time for terror offences.

The incident has stoked anger on the island where some still see Colonna – who was arrested only in 2003 after a five-year manhunt that eventually found him living as a shepherd in the Corsican mountains – as a hero in a fight for independence.

Hundreds demonstrated in the main Corsican cities of Ajaccio, Calvi and Bastia with the protests rapidly degenerating into clashes with security forces.

In Ajaccio, protesters broke into the main justice building, setting fire to scrap papers. They then went on to ransack a bank.

Local authorities said 14 people were wounded in Ajaccio alone, including a journalist for France’s TF1 TV channel, who was wounded in the leg.

Colonna was jailed in the south of France with authorities long rejecting his demand to be transferred to Corsica, saying his offence made him a special status detainee.

In a bid to ease tensions, Prime Minister Jean Castex on Tuesday removed this status, but the move was seen as too little too late by Colonna’s supporters in Corsica.

French prosecutors have charged Colonna’s alleged jail assailant, Franck Elong Abe, with attempted murder in association with a terror group.

According to France’s top anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard, Franck Elong Abe had confessed to the attack, saying he had been angered by “blasphemous statements” made by Colonna while behind bars.

Member comments

  1. France should show steely determination in arresting all terrorists and rioters, we can’t have these people ruining French society.

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ECONOMY

French economy minister ‘worried’ by British ‘disaster’

France's economy minister said Friday that he was worried by the financial turbulence in Britain, criticising Prime Minister Liz Truss's economic policies for causing a "disaster" of high borrowing rates for her country.

French economy minister 'worried' by British 'disaster'

“I’m not worried about the situation in the eurozone,” Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio when asked about the risk of the crisis spreading. “On the other hand, I am worried about the British situation.”

“What does it show? It shows firstly that there are costs for financial and economic policies,” he said.

Truss’s “mini-budget” announced last Friday included major tax cuts that would need to be financed by extra borrowing, spooking investors who immediately questioned the credibility of the policies and Britain’s financial standing.

“When you take on major costs like that, with spectacular announcements, as some opposition parties want to do in France, it perturbs the markets. It perturbs financial balances,” Le Maire said.

“And it leads to a real disaster with interest rates which are 4.5 percent or even higher in Great Britain. We have interest rates which are reasonable, which are quite close to Germany’s because there is consistency in our economic and financial policymaking,” he said.

“The second thing is that leaving Europe comes with a considerable cost because Europe is a protection,” he added, referring to Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The pound fell to an all-time low against the dollar and the yield on 10-year British government bonds — which sets the cost of borrowing for the government — briefly rose to above 4.5 percent on Wednesday.

That led the Bank of England to intervene with a £65 billion emergency bond-buying programme to stabilise the market.

Le Maire has been under pressure this week to explain his own budget choices, with the government planning to borrow a record €270 billion next year and a run a deficit of 5.0 percent of GDP.

Some analysts see the deficit as likely to be higher because of Le Maire’s optimistic growth forecast for the economy and assumptions about savings from a controversial pensions reform that has not been passed by parliament.

French-British relations have been rocky for years, particularly under former prime minister Boris Johnson, with a host of issues souring ties from Brexit and fishing rights to migrants.

French ministers had been reluctant to comment on Truss since she came to power despite deep concerns about her Brexit policies and her statement while campaigning that she did not know if French President Emmanuel Macron was a “friend or foe.”

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