French President under fire for 'emotional' offer

DEPORTED: Leonarda Dibrani was arrested by French police during a school trip.


    Oct 22, 2013

    French President under fire for 'emotional' offer

    FRENCH President Francois Hollande has been attacked from all sides after offering a deported Roma schoolgirl the chance to return to France without her family.

    His offer to let Leonarda Dibrani, 15, return to the country - which she declined, saying she would not leave behind her parents and five siblings in Kosovo - has been met with incomprehension and vitriol, leaving him accused of misusing his position and acting "emotionally".

    French media on Sunday let rip at Mr Hollande, with the website of the left-wing Liberation newspaper describing the move as "the most improbable of all scenarios". The weekly Journal du Dimanche called the offer "bizarre as it is incomprehensible".

    Politician Francois Bayrou, a centrist heavyweight who backed Mr Hollande in the second round of presidential elections last year, weighed in to say that a head of state "should not confuse emotion and the duty of government".

    The Roma teenager had immediately turned down the offer from the town of Mitrovica in Kosovo, where she has been living with her family since their Oct 9 deportation.

    "I'm not the only one who has to go to school, there are also my brothers and sisters," she said.

    Her arrest by French police during a school trip and the subsequent deportation of her family have sparked soul-searching by France's left and brought thousands of high-school students into the streets in protest.

    The results of a formal investigation published on Saturday found that the deportation was lawful, but that the police could have used better judgment in the way they handled it.