Why Corsica’s ‘autonomy’ could cost Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron has signaled he is ready to discuss “autonomy” for Corsica after two weeks of violent protests on the French-ruled Mediterranean island.

The demonstrations “triggered a major government crisis just weeks before the presidential elections in April,” he said The guard‘s Paris correspondent Angelique Chrisafis. The riots were triggered by a “wild prison attack” on jailed nationalist Yvan Colonna in a prison in mainland France.

“Hundreds of hooded demonstrators threw projectiles, Molotov cocktails and homemade explosive devices at police and public buildings,” Chrisafis reported. On Sunday alone, more than 100 people, including 77 police officers, were injured in what prosecutors described as “extremely violent” clashes in Corsica’s second largest city, Bastia.

Violent outburst

Anger erupted on the island after Colonna, a key figure in the independence movement, was attacked by a fellow inmate at Arles prison and left in a coma. euronews reported. Colonna is serving a life sentence for his role in the 1998 assassination of Claude Érignac, then the highest official of the French state in Corsica.

The high-profile nationalist had “relocated back to prison in Corsica,” citing security concerns, the broadcaster said. After the prison attack, the French government removed his status as a “detainee of very high concern,” but the move “did not mollify protesters.”

The attack on Colonna “stoked anger” in Corsica, “where some see him as a hero in the fight for independence from France,” said The Guardian’s Chrisafis. Thousands of demonstrators have marched through the streets with placards bearing slogans such as “murderers of the French government”.

The National Liberation Front of Corsica (FLNC), “the main militant group behind 40 years of armed struggle for Corsica’s separation from France,” has warned the protests could develop into an “insurgency,” Chrisafis continued.

The warning was widely interpreted as a threat that the FLNC, previously linked to bombings and widespread extortion, “may resume operations.”

Police in the city of Bastia said protesters had already “used homemade explosive devices containing gunpowder, lead or nails and threw acid”. The Telegraphreported Paris correspondent Henry Samuel. A mob is also said to have “set the tax office on fire and damaged the inside of the main post office”.

“It was unprecedented, we’ve never seen anything like it,” a senior police source said Le figaro. “Protesters threw unlit Molotov cocktails at our men to cover them in gasoline and a second wave fired flares at them to set them ablaze.”

de-escalation talks

Before landing on the island for a two-day visit, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told the Corsican newspaper Corsican Matine that the government is “ready to go as far as autonomy” to stem the violence, adding: “There you are, the word has been spoken.”

But he warned that “while violence is ongoing, there can be no dialogue,” stating “a return to calm is an essential condition.”

The island was annexed by France in 1769 after being ceded to Louis XV by the Republic of Genoa in 1768. had been ceded. Since 1991, it has had greater “autonomy than other French regions, particularly in relation to education, the environment and transport,” reported The Telegraph.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin speaks to the press in Corsica

Pascal Pochard-Casabianca/AFP via Getty Images

But “Paris has rejected many of its demands,” the newspaper added, “including recognition of the Corsican language as an official language” and “that only Corsican residents can own property on an island where 40 percent of houses are second homes”. .

“No details have been given” of what the autonomy might look like, The Guardian said. “A discussion could consider an autonomous status in which Corsica assumes certain legislative powers such as taxation, local economic development and housing.”

The proposal was “warmly welcomed” by Gilles Simeoni, President of the Island Council. The times reported. He told reporters they were “important words that open perspectives, but they should now be broadened and consolidated.”

But the FLNC “condemned” the offer of talks, the newspaper added, describing it as a “contemptuous denial” of Corsica’s “right” to independence.

home front

An Ifop poll of 1,100 Corsicans published in Corsican Matine on Sunday found that 53% support some degree of autonomy for Corsica and 35% support the island’s full independence from France.

But President Macron faces anger at home, The Times reported, where his two “main right-wing opponents” in April’s election “accused him of capitulation and violation of the old French principle of the unitary state”.

Marine Le Pen said the deal would send a “disastrous message,” while Valérie Pécresse, the conservative Republican nominee, said the president was “succumbing to violence.” Anne Hidalgo, the socialist candidate and Paris mayor, said that “Macron’s offer was an electoral ploy to make a name for itself in Corsica,” the newspaper added.

“Most other presidential candidates have promised more freedom for Corsica” as part of their electoral manifestos, The Telegraph said.

Macron needs to tread carefully, however, as any autonomy deal is “likely” to do so influence the French presidential elections less than a month until the first ballot,” euronews reported.

https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/europe/956121/why-corsica-autonomy-could-bite-emmanuel-macron Why Corsica’s ‘autonomy’ could cost Emmanuel Macron

Fry Electronics Team

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