Monday, May 07, 2007

Well, we kinda told you so . . .

Paris riots after election results

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CLASHES between police and protestors have been reported in central Paris and the southeastern city of Lyon after conservative leader Nicolas Sarkozy was elected French President overnight.

In the Place de la Bastille in Paris riot police fired tear gas and at least one burst of water cannon after hundreds of rioters – some wearing masks – began throwing bottles, stones and other missiles.

Earlier, a small crowd brandishing black and red anarchist flags set fire to an effigy of Mr Sarkozy before tearing it limb from limb and then stamping on it. Demonstrators changed "police everywhere, justice nowhere".

Gallery: Protestors' fury over the election result today
Video: Mixed reactions to Nicolas Sarkozy's win

About 5000 supporters of defeated Socialist party candidate Segolene Royal had gathered in the square to await the election results. Mr Sarkozy beat Ms Royal by 53 per cent of the vote to 47 per cent, according to projections.

The defeated Socialists had portrayed Mr Sarkozy as a danger for France during the election campaign and said he was authoritarian who was likely to exacerbate tensions in the poor, multi-racial suburbs that ring many cities.

Thousands of extra police have been drafted in to patrol sensitive areas following the election result.

Victory celebrations

In another part of central Paris, Mr Sarkozy appeared before cheering crowds in and promised to be "president for all the French without exception".

"This evening is a victory for France," he said to a crowd of 10,000 in the Place de la Concorde.

"I ask you to be generous, to be tolerant, to be fraternal. I ask you to hold out your hand. I ask you to give the image of a France that is united, together, which leaves no-one at the side of the road.

"My dear friends, I have seen victories before in my career. But victory is only beautiful if it is generous. Victory is not vengeance – it is being open in spirit. Victory only has meaning if it is victory for the country in its entirety.

"Millions of French are watching us. Millions of French have placed their trust in us. You must understand that the first people I wish to address are those who did not place their trust in us.

"I want them to understand that I will be a president of the republic for all the French without exception."

Global response

European leaders congratulated Mr Sarkozy on his victory today and hoped his triumph would help unblock reforms stalled by the rejection of the EU constitution in 2005.

US President George W. Bush also telephoned to offer his congratulations and said he expected good relations with the new leader, who has made a priority of repairing the damage to French-US relations caused by tension over the Iraq war.

Mr Sarkozy's election could help re-start the process of finding a way forward on reviving the European Union constitution, which has been held up as Europe awaited the results of the French election.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he was confident Mr Sarkozy would help find a way out of the impasse that has gripped Europe since French and Dutch voters threw out the constitution in referenda two years ago.

"France is back in Europe," Mr Sarkozy said just after his election win.

Mr Sarkozy has proposed a slimmed-down "mini treaty" containing basic institutional reforms that would allow the EU to function properly after its expansion to 27 members. To avoid the need for a second referendum in France, he wants to pass the mini treaty through parliament.

Original article posted here

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