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Youth protest in Cameroon over Macron’s insult to their leader

Scores of youths in Cameroon protested outside the French embassy in the capital, Yaoundé, over “insulting” remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron on President Paul Biya.

This is after a video went viral on social media over the weekend of President Macron telling a Cameroonian activist in Paris that he had pressured Mr Biya to release opposition leader Maurice Kamto – who was eventually freed from jail after nine months in October 2019.

In the video, the French President was also heard saying that there were “intolerable human rights violations” taking place in Cameroon – a remark that came days after 22 people were killed by gunmen wearing military uniforms in Ngarbuh village in the country’s North-West region.

“I will call President Biya next week and we will put maximum pressure so that the situation ends,” Mr Macron told the activist.

The remarks have not been taken kindly by authorities in Yaoundé.

“We are comfortable with our president. He is a man of peace,” shouted one protester.

“France has no lessons to give Cameroon and Macron must apologise for insinuating that our president is his stooge,” said another.

And another simply carried a placard asking Macron to have respect for his elders, emphasising the fact that Cameroon is a sovereign state.

Civil activist Yvone Mumah Biya said the authorities were behind the protest.

“This is political manipulation. Somebody somewhere thinks they have not done their job well, and they think they can go and mobilise these youths,” she told the BBC.


L’Arche founder Jean Vanier sexually abused women – internal report

A religious leader who founded a celebrated organisation for people with learning difficulties sexually abused six women in France, an internal report found.

Canadian Jean Vanier founded the global network L’Arche in France in 1964 and died last year aged 90.

None of the women he abused were themselves disabled, the report says.

An investigation into Vanier was commissioned by L’Arche International last year after suspicions were raised.

The full report is due to be published in the coming days.

“We are shocked by these discoveries and unreservedly condemn these actions, which are in total contradiction with the values Jean Vanier claimed and are incompatible with the basic rules of respect and integrity of persons, and contrary to the fundamental principles on which L’Arche is based,” L’Arche International said in a statement on its website.

The organisation runs homes and centres where people with and without disabilities live together, operating in 38 countries with around 10,000 members.

What does the report say?

Vanier, a devout Catholic, had “manipulative and emotionally abusive” sexual relationships with six women in Trosly-Breuil, France, between 1970 and 2005, according to a statement by L’Arche International about the soon-to-be-published report.

Sexual relations were instigated by Vanier, usually in the context of giving spiritual guidance.

“These women reported similar facts associated with highly unusual spiritual or mystical explanations used to justify these behaviours,” the statement said.

“The relationships […] had a significant negative impact on their personal lives and subsequent relationships.

“These actions are indicative of a deep psychological and spiritual hold Jean Vanier had on these women,” it said.

It also says Vanier asked the women the keep the incidents secret.

The women included assistants and nuns, according to Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail, which first broke the story.

Vanier also shared sexual partners and “mystical” sexual practices with disgraced priest Thomas Philippe, according to the newspaper.

Father Philippe, who died in 1993, was Vanier’s “spiritual father”.

Vanier publicly denied knowledge of those practices, but the report finds that he was using the same methods.

Vanier’s actions “reveal his own adoption of some of Father Thomas Philippe’s deviant theories and practices which he continued over a very long period of time”, L’Arche International said.

The investigation was carried out by independent UK consultancy GCPS.

Who was Jean Vanier?

The son of a Canadian diplomat, he left a naval career in 1950 to study theology, saying he wanted to “follow Jesus”.

While visiting a chaplain in Paris who worked with men with learning difficulties, he became disturbed by the poor conditions in which the men lived.

He founded L’Arche to provide communities for people with learning difficulties to live alongside people without disability as equals.

There are now 154 L’Arche centres around the world.

Vanier was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work, and was awarded the prestigious Companion of the Order of Canada.

In 2015, he was the recipient of the Templeton Prize, an award described as “entirely deserved” by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

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