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ENVIRONMENT

Thousands to march in climate protests across France on Saturday

Thousands of people are expected to join 130 demonstrations across France on Saturday in an effort to pressure the country’s presidential election candidates to put climate change at the top of the political agenda.

Thousands to march in climate protests across France on Saturday
Climate change protesters marching in Bordeaux on May 9, 2021. (Photo: Philippe Lopez / AFP)

“Two months before the presidential election, the climate and social emergency has been passed over in silence by the candidates and the media,” the Together for the Climate group said in a statement.

“While our lives are at stake, they prefer to close their eyes. We can act. We must remind them of the order of priorities and make 2022 the year when France has finally taken the path of a fair and sustainable future for all. We won’t wait another five years.”

According to the Climate Action Network, climate change today is a “capital issue” for 94 percent of French people polled in a recent IPSOS survey, with 47 percent saying it should be a priority. 

Marches are planned in France’s major cities on Saturday, March 12th – Paris’ will start at 2pm at Place de la Nation, while key protests are set to take place in Nice, Toulouse, Marseille, Nantes, Strasbourg and Lyon. 

The Climate Action Network has produced an interactive map showing where the marches are taking place – and their start times. Most marches are due to begin at 2pm.

Image: Climate Action Network France

The motto for this year’s march is Look Up, adapted from the Netflix satire Don’t Look Up, which – MarchClimat said on its website – “draw an obvious and chilling parallel with climate change and its catastrophic consequences on our lives”.

The group added: “the climate emergency is now undeniable; but instead of looking the truth in the face and taking their responsibilities, political leaders and multinational corporations are looking away or even sabotaging any hope for a just and sustainable future.”

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POLITICS

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.

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