Criticism-hit France sends aid to Libya opposition

first_img Share 165 Views   no discussions News Criticism-hit France sends aid to Libya opposition by: – February 28, 2011 Share Sharing is caring! Tweet Share BBC News France has come under fire for its apparent links to authoritarian leadersFrance is to send two planes of aid to opposition territory in Libya, Prime Minister Francois Fillon has said.The announcement came hours after Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie quit amid controversy over her contacts with the former Tunisian regime.Her decision to stand down was “political not moral”, Mr Fillon said.Paris has been stung by accusations that it was too cosy with the authoritarian regimes overthrown in recent weeks, say analysts.Ms Alliot-Marie was heavily criticised for initially offering French help to quell the uprising in Tunisia.Subsequent revelations about her and her family’s links to the regime of former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, and the fact that she had taken a Christmas holiday in Tunisia during the uprising made her position increasingly untenable.‘Massive operation’“In a few hours two French planes will leave for Benghazi on behalf of the French government with doctors, nurses, medical equipment and medicine,” Prime Minister Fillon said in an interview with France’s RTL radio – referring to the eastern Libyan town that has been at the centre of the Libyan uprising and is now in opposition hands.“This will be the start of a massive humanitarian aid operation to the populations of liberated areas,” he declared.He said France had not ruled out backing a Nato-enforced “no-fly zone” over Libya – one way it has been suggested that foreign governments could help defend Libyan rebels against the remaining air power of Col Muammar Gaddafi.Mr Fillon insisted Ms Alliot-Marie had done nothing wrong.“She was not at fault,” Mr Fillon said.“This was not a moral decision, but a political one.“The voice of France was no longer audible, because Michele Alliot-Marie had become the object of an unjust campaign.”Ms Alliot-Marie had defended her conduct in her resignation letter to President Nicolas Sarkozy, a copy of which was seen by the AFP news agency, saying she had been “the target of political attacks”.She will be replaced by Defence Minister Alain Juppe, 65, who previously served as foreign minister and prime minister in the 1990s. In 2004, he was convicted of mishandling public funds.Mr Juppe will be replaced by Gerard Longuet, leader of Mr Sarkozy’s UMP party in the Senate and the president’s long-time collaborator.Mr Sarkozy’s chief of staff, Claude Gueant, will become interior minister in place of controversy-hit Brice Hortefeux.Mr Gueant will be in charge of restoring the government’s reputation as tough on crime with a view to his Mr Sarkozy’s expected 2012 re-election bid, observers say.Collateral damageMs Alliot-Marie’s political career has become collateral damage from the wave of popular protest movements across the Arab world, says the BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris. Back at the end of December, as the pro-democracy uprising in Tunisia got under way, but before its significance was apparent, Ms Alliot-Marie visited the country on holiday, and, it emerged later, twice flew on a private jet belonging to businessman Aziz Miled.It also transpired that on the same trip, her parents signed a property deal with Mr Miled, a man with close links to the former Tunisian leader.Then in a series of ill-advised semi-denials and retractions about the affair, she only managed to make a bad situation worse, our correspondent adds.Mr Sarkozy was gravely embarrassed by the affair, which came to symbolise in some eyes an unhealthy personal proximity between French politicians and autocratic leaders in the Middle East and elsewhere, he adds.By sending aid to rebels in Libya, Paris now appears to be taking steps to ensure it is seen as supporting democratic change in the region, say analysts.last_img read more

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Jose return would be ‘spectacular’

first_img Press Association Andre Villas-Boas has described the potential return of Jose Mourinho to the Premier League as “spectacular”. The former Chelsea boss is expected to leave Real Madrid this summer and has made no secret of his desire to return to England, saying this week it is where he feels loved. Chelsea are favourites to re-sign their former boss, with Rafael Benitez’s short-term contract up at the end of the season. Tottenham manager Villas-Boas worked under his Portuguese countryman at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, and he believes Mourinho is likely to have a position lined up. Villas-Boas said: “He obviously wants to come back to England, whether he has a club aligned or not, we never know.” center_img The Portuguese continued: “It’s extremely unlikely when someone makes it that public that something is not set out already but he is a great addition to the Premier League. He has a wonderful history in this league and I think it will be spectacular to have him back.” Mourinho has won a significant haul of trophies at all his clubs but has found it most difficult at Madrid. Defeat over two legs against Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals means the Champions League will once again elude the Spaniards this season, and Villas-Boas acknowledged Mourinho probably has not lived up to expectations. The Spurs boss said: “When he left (England) he wasn’t that well loved by a few of you guys (the media) and that was something we talked about. He was loved in all the clubs where he has won titles, in Real Madrid the same. “There is maximum respect for what he has achieved, but for it to be at the level of Real Madrid’s expectancy, we will never know. Probably not, but he certainly has won a league against a dream Barcelona team, which is a great achievement.” West Brom manager Steve Clarke and Swansea’s Michael Laudrup would both welcome Mourinho’s return to the Premier League. Clarke was assistant manager to the 50-year-old at Chelsea, but he insisted: “I don’t know if he’s coming or not, that’s the truth. “I know he was happy here because he had a good job at a good club and we were successful. That’s what he likes, he likes to win football matches wherever he is. If he comes back, it’s great for the Premier League. If he does come back and we get the chance to play against him that would be great.” Laudrup, a former Real Madrid midfielder, added: “To have good managers in a top league is always good, and there will be a lot of nice press conferences for the media to look forward to. He is a good manager, you just need to look at his CV and what he has achieved with all his clubs, so for him to return to Chelsea would be good for the Premier League.” last_img read more

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GOP legislators say they’re ready to take next step in 2019 (AUDIO)

first_imgDES MOINES — Three hours before the 2019 Iowa legislative session began, 150 Iowa Republicans gathered in a Des Moines hotel ballroom to celebrate their 2018 election victories and provided some general hints of their agenda for the year ahead.Jeff Kaufmann , the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, said Republican Governor Kim Reynolds has a mandate from voters.“The governor won 88 of 99 counties. That is a statewide referendum, a pat on the back to go get ’em, period!” Kaufmann said to kick-off the event.Reynolds thanked her fellow Republicans for supporting her “conservative message.”“We need your continued support as we move into this legislative session,” Reynolds told the crowd.AUDIO of event, 43:00House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake has been the top Republican in the legislature for the past four years.“The voters affirmed what we were about, what we did and we’re excited to go forward,” Upmeyer said.Senate President Charles Schneider, a Republican from West Des Moines, said Republicans aims to limit the size and scale of government and reduce the tax burden.“Iowans and, really, all Americans want their election officials to lead,” Schneider said. “They want elected officials to think big and pose solutions to critical problems without worrying about political consequences and, most importantly, they want us to follow through on what we said we will do.”Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, a Republican from Ankeny, said the GOP made “big reforms” over the past two years.“Now it’s time to take the next step forward. We’ll continue our big ideas, our bold action to reduce taxes on hard-working Iowans, continue to build our workforce and continue to build our mental health system,” Whitver said. “There’s a lot of work to do. The voters are expecting us to do big things. We will.”This morning’s event was a fundraiser for the Iowa Republican Party and it was open to the media. Iowa Democrats held a private fundraiser last night.last_img read more

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