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Socialist presidential candidate says France must 'open its arms' to all races

Socialist presidential candidate says France must 'open its arms' to all races

Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal said Friday that France must "open its arms" to people of color in criticism of a short-lived French law on colonialism and at rival Nicolas Sarkozy.
Mixed races are a "chance for France," she said, promising to become the "president of a mulatto France"
"You are, we are, all the young, the legitimate children of this Republic which must open its arms," Royal said on the second day of her visit to Martinique. She heads to Guadeloupe on Saturday on her Caribbean campaign swing before the April-May presidential elections. The region has a potential half-million votes.
Her statement went to the heart of questioning over France's changing identity as it comes to grips with its colonial past and becomes a country of mixed race and color.
In a boost for Royal, Martinique's poet and elder statesman, Aime Cesaire, agreed Friday to be the honorary president of her local support committee, saying that he sees in her a vehicle for new policies.
"Martinique has changed, Martinique is worried. We are in a new world and think that new policies are needed," he said.
Cesaire, fragile at 93, walked hand-in-hand with Royal to the steps of the city hall to appear side by side with the woman who spent part of her childhood on this French Caribbean island where her military father was posted.
"She knows us and I thank her for wanting to hear the people of Martinique," said Cesaire, who has come to embody the fight for a black identity.
The conservative Sarkozy, France's interior minister, came here in March, long before Royal, but with less success. He was trying then to heal divisions over the short-lived French law that ordered a positive spin on colonialism. President Jacques Chirac, calming the uproar, including in Martinique and Goudeloupe, withdrew the law.
However, Royal evoked the now-dead measure of February 2005, calling it "execrable" and noting that it was "voted by the right."
It was an indirect jibe at Sarkozy, who had been forced to postpone his trip here at the time because of demonstrations over the law.
Sarkozy and Royal have been trading barbs at a growing tempo over the past week.


Updated : 2020-12-04 19:13 GMT+08:00