The Guardian (UK)
This British daily newspaper reports that at least one million people have been left homeless in the worst disaster to hit east Asia since the 2004 Tsunami.
Cylone Nargis barreled across south-west and central Burma on Saturday. Winds of up to 190 kmph coupled with torrential rains and flooding caused a catastrophic trail of destruction.
Foreign minister Nyan Win says the death toll is likely to reach 10,000 while 3,000 are still missing – although latest figures suggest this figure has climbed to 15,000. The worst affected parts of the Irrawaddy delta are yet to be reached.
The front page says that the decision by Burma’s military rulers to ask for outside assistance is momentous – the Junta refused to do so during the 2004 Tsunami.
The Independent (UK)
Journalist Peter Popham says a natural disaster like this “is a moment of reckoning for an authoritarian regime”.
The Junta justifies its military regime because it argues Burma is in a permanent state of emergency due to the threat from secessionist groups on the borders.
He says that strong arm tactics used by the Junta in the past – particularly to suppress last September’s anti-government protests – won’t solve this crisis.
Popham says the Junta responded characteristically at the start of the emergency by doing nothing. Official newspapers urged people to vote in the 10 May referendum on a new constitution.
But Monday marked a turning point as the number of casualties officially admitted jumped from 400 to 4,000 and then 10,000.
Popham says the Junta does not want foreign aid workers swarming through the land, especially as it tries to press on with the referendum. But failure to act could lead to a popular revolt.
He asserts that the Junta’s decision to allow foreign aid is an attempt by the government to avoid any outbreak of violent disorder.
Le temps (Switzerland)
“ECLAIRAGES: Sarkozy, du triomphe à l’égarement”
It’s exactly a year to the day since French President Nicolas Sarkozy swept to power, promising to write a new page in the history of France. Swiss daily newspaper Le Temps celebrates this fact with an amusing look at his time in office so far…and rapid fall from grace in the eyes of French voters.
Divided into acts like a play, the article lists his excessive confidence and “bling” lifestyle, from holidaying on a luxury yacht straight after his election to behaving more like a celebrity than a head of state.
His personal life also comes under scrutiny – which attracted more headlines around the world than his policies.
On 18 October Sarkozy announced he and Cecilia were getting divorced, this coupled with a controversial visit from Colonel Kadhafi hit his ratings hard.
But it was his high-profile romance with singer and model Carla Bruni –at a time when he was trying to push through deeply unpopular reforms – which caused his approval ratings to plummet.
The article ends by asking whether the president can bounce back….particularly after difficult local elections for his UMP party last month and an unfortunate exchange with an angry farmer at an agricultural show.
“Les ambitions de Bertrand Delanoe”
As Sarkozy’s suitability as president is once again under the spotlight, the front page of left-wing French daily Liberation is dominated by a photo of Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe.
The newspaper says the socialist politician – who was recently re-elected as mayor - now has his sights set on the Elysee.
It could be good news for the Socialist Party which imploded after last year’s election defeat.