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Geopolitics

Is The French Presidential Campaign About To Tumble Out Of Control?

Op-Ed: The bloodshed in Toulouse is sure to affect France’s presidential campaign. Predictably, the far-right’s Marine Le Pen is already using the terrorist killings to stir anti-immigrant sentiment. It's a trap that Sarkozy and the other candida

Right-wing nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen (Wikipedia)
Right-wing nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen (Wikipedia)
Catherine Dubouloz

Looking solemn in front of the coffins of the three soldiers killed last week in Montauban and Toulouse, French President Nicolas Sarkozy invoked "the imperative need for national unity in the face of cold-blooded savagery." The words resonated in the courtyard of the 17th parachutist regiment. Next to the families and the soldiers, five presidential candidates were present. Some of them, like François Hollande, had suspended their campaigns. Others, like François Bayrou, didn't. Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate, was also there.

"Under no circumstances should we give in to discrimination," Sarkozy said at the end of this speech. "France cannot be great unless it is united. We owe that to the victims."

That moment, laden with gravity, was not soiled by any obvious missteps on the part of either Sarkozy or his rivals. In the coming days and weeks, however, things are likely to become a lot trickier for the candidates. Now with the death Thursday of the presumed killer – an allegedly homegrown Salafist radical who is also suspected of shooting three children and a rabbi Monday in front of a Toulouse Jewish school – the race for the presidency will recommence in full force. Only this time the candidates are at much greater risk of committing blunders that could have unpredictable political consequences.

Marine Le Pen started to move her pawns on Wednesday, talking about "an underestimated risk of fundamentalism" and the "war" that had to be fought against "politico-religious fundamentalist groups." She seemed close to sounding off again on "Islamization," one of her favorite themes, which we have already seen in her criticism about the lack of labelling of halal meat. Le Pen's other big issues are immigration and crime.

The other candidates, therefore, have an even greater responsibility now to prevent the campaign from turning towards the stigmatization of one community, a community that is already frequently sidelined and discriminated against. They must stay focused instead on subjects that are important to France, like economic growth and employment.

For the time being, Nicolas Sarkozy is fulfilling his role as the country's leader. His chief rival, François Hollande, remains dignified. But with a month before the first round of elections, they are still at risk of making false steps could have serious consequences. Faced with this danger, there is only one defense: to elevate the tone of the debate.

Read more from Le Temps in French

Photo - Wikipedia

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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