The government of France has denied anything to do with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the group seeking a referendum to carve out a separate country in the South East region of Nigeria. The federal government of Nigeria which launched a military clampdown on the separatist group last week, subsequently proscribed it a terrorist organisation. The government also alleged that the group was being funded from France and that it would take urgent measures to block it. But in a reaction, the Embassy of France in Nigeria has expressed surprise at the statement made yesterday (Wednesday) by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed indicating that the “financial headquarters” of IPOB was in France. The statement signed by the Political Counsellor, Embassy of France in Nigeria, Claude Abily, challenged the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide documentary evidence to substantiate its claims that France was the financial headquarters of the separatist group. “The Embassy of France was surprised by the statement made yesterday by the Minister of Information and Culture indicating that the “financial headquarters” of IPOB were in France. “We don’t have any knowledge of a particular presence of IPOB in France and the Nigerian authorities never got in touch with the Embassy on this point. We stand ready to examine any information which could support this statement. “Furthermore, we would like to reiterate that France actively cooperates with Nigeria in the field of security and that we strongly support the unity of the country,” the Embassy said.

Emmanuel Macron pledges to unite France as he is sworn in as president

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Emmanuel Macron pledged to unite France as he was sworn in as president Sunday, becoming the country’s youngest leader since Napoleon Bonaparte.

“The division and fractures in our society must be overcome,” the 39-year-old former investment banker said. “The world and Europe needs France more than ever.”

Macron was handed the keys to the country and the nuclear codes by predecessor Francois Hollande in an inauguration ceremony at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris.

The independent centrist won a resounding victory last week against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to become the eighth president of France’s fifth republic.

The political newcomer has never before held elected office and only formed his political movement a year ago.

Macron was sworn in, watched by around 300 guests in the sumptuous Salle des Fetes.

Representatives from every level of government, as well as members of different faiths, joined 100 personal guests as Macron received the Grand Necklace of the Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest award the country can offer.

Macron invited his entire family, including his parents and the children of his wife, Brigitte Macron, 64.

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The new first lady wore a powder blue dress with a double breasted matching jacket designed for the occasion by Nicolas Ghesquiere. She carried a Louis Vuitton handbag on loan to her. The President wore a dark blue suit.

Also invited to the ceremony was the partner of the police officer who was killed on the Champs Elysee by a terrorist just before the first round of voting in the presidential elections.

Security was tight across the city for the inauguration with many parts closed to traffic.

Macron was later due to visit the Arc de Triomphe to pay his respects at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, before heading to Paris City Hall for a third and final ceremony.

France has been under a state of emergency since terror attacks in 2015 and remains on a high alert.

In the days before the first-round of voting in April, a gunman ambushed three Parisian police officers on the Champs-Elysees, killing one and wounding two others. ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting and President Hollande said it was likely a terrorist attack.

The weeks following the inauguration ceremony will be tough as the new president prepares for June’s parliamentary elections, which have been dubbed the third round of the presidential vote.

Macron’s movement, renamed after his victory as “Republique En Marche!,” will try to win a majority to ensure he can push through legislation.

It will be Macron’s first test as president, as his new party currently holds no parliamentary seats.

Image: AFP

 

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