Macron on brink of election crisis as rival calls out President over confusing naivety

Macron ‘will make those types of comments’ says Priti Patel

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Speaking to French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, the President of the Hauts-de-France region and candidate for the presidential election, said Emmanuel Macron shows a “form of recklessness” on subjects linked to terrorism, in Mali as in Afghanistan.

Mr Bertrand accused the French President of having committed “a fault” by announcing the withdrawal of French ground troops from Mali and to have “shown a confusing naivety” in the face of Islamism since 2017.

On Afghanistan, he said: “Given the dramatic conditions of the American withdrawal, France lacked leadership. The Taliban’s seizure of power in Kabul is a turning point for the world order and a tragedy for the Afghans. I am thinking particularly of the situation of women.

“We can’t forget the sacrifice of 90 French soldiers who died in combat in Afghanistan, which made it possible to protect our country against potential terrorist attacks.

“Now that the first emergency measures to repatriate our compatriots and those who have helped us there have been taken, we must be very clear with the new Afghan leaders: if Afghanistan becomes again the rear base for anti-Western terrorism, if barbarism is developing there again, massive and rapid sanctions will be needed.

“This subject must be put on the priority agenda of a G7 but above all of a G20, because nothing can be resolved without the Russians and the Chinese.

“France’s role is to bring together as many countries as possible on this line.

“Then, we must seriously prepare for the migratory shock that is coming.

“We must take our part in this drama, but not under any conditions, and not on our own.

“This is why I asked, from August 14, that France take the initiative to convene a European Council as a matter of urgency.”

READ MORE: Taliban LIVE: 9,000 rebel forces amass in strategic valley

Asked whether he found Emmanuel Macron “care-free” in the face of Islamism, Mr Bertrand replied: “For five years, Emmanuel Macron has shown a confusing naivety on this issue.

“He doesn’t understand the threat that radical Islamism poses to our security and our values.

“Radical Islamism is not a religion, it is an ideology which, on a global scale, wants to destroy our vision of the world, our identity, what France is: freedoms, women’s rights, the right to believe in the God of one’s choice or not to believe, the right to choose what you do and who you love.”

The blasting comments come as latest polls show 61 percent of French voters between the age of 18 and 24 are dissatisfied by the French President (+10 points since July).

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Mr Macron will face his rivals at the presidential elections next year.

Thousands demonstrated across France for a sixth consecutive weekend on Saturday against a COVID-19 health pass required for daily activities, highlighting a simmering political risk for President Macron.

The Interior Ministry said around 175,500 people in total demonstrated on Saturday – down from roughly 215,000 last weekend although numbers could increase as people return from summer holidays.

The health pass is official documentation, with a QR scan code, that proves a person has had the COVID-19 vaccine.

Many French bars, restaurants, museums and sports venues will not allow people inside unless they can show the health pass.

While the majority of people in France have been vaccinated against COVID-19, demonstrators argue the health pass discriminates against those who have not, and infringes upon people’s liberties.

“This health pass divides French people. I think that is clear. And unfortunately, I believe we should abolish it,” said civil servant Sophie Soulas at the Paris protest.

The protests have united a disparate group against the health pass, which is designed to encourage more people to get vaccinated and protect France against a fourth wave of the virus.

The biggest demonstration in Paris was led by far-right politician Florian Philippot, head of Les Patriotes party, while there was also a demonstration by left-wing protesters linked to the ‘Yellow Vests’ (‘Gilets Jaunes’) movement.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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