"In order to preserve the quality of the exchanges held so far and to recreate the conditions for the serene pursuit of the process of dialogue initiated between Corsica and the State, the Minister has decided to postpone his trip for a few weeks", announced in a press release from the Ministry of the Interior, according to which "the conditions for a calm debate with the mayors" were "not met".
An opinion shared by the president of the Corsican executive, the autonomist Gilles Simeoni, for whom "this postponement is a good thing". "After the emotion and incomprehension aroused by the court decision which kept Pierre Alessandri in detention, the conditions were not met for a serene dialogue", estimated the elected official with AFP, evoking a " disturbing public order in Corsica".
"I will propose to the delegation of Corsican elected officials who are discussing with Paris to meet during the week, to see how we can overcome the deadlock situation", he added.
"This is a postponement which does not call into question the principle of the discussions, which must continue in good conditions", reacted for his part the deputy and former mayor of Ajaccio, Laurent Marcangeli (Horizons) .
Paul-Félix Benedettti, leader of the independence movement "Core in Fronte", a minority in the Assembly of Corsica, for his part called on the government to do "its examination of conscience" and to "stop playing with fire".
- "Dangerous maneuvers" -
"We are not in a logic of a postponement of a few weeks. We want a review of the method, (...) to settle the problem of the prisoners, (...) that everyone comes with absolute respect for the another without seeking to make fraudulent and dangerous maneuvers," he told AFP.
Gérald Darmanin was to meet Thursday and Friday with Corsican elected officials, as part of an intermediate meeting in the consultation cycle planned over a year in Paris. He was to discuss the issue of waste and energy, in the presence of the Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion Christophe Béchu.
But this process therefore stalled with the rejection by the Paris Court of Appeal at the end of September of yet another request for semi-freedom from Pierre Alessandri, 64, sentenced to life imprisonment in 2003 for the assassination of the prefect of Corsica Claude Erignac and releasable since 2017.
The elected members of the Assembly of Corsica had immediately expressed their "indignation". The next day, an association for the defense of prisoners called on elected officials to suspend discussions with the government, which the independence party Core in Fronte had announced.
The separatist Femu a Corsica party led by Gilles Simeoni had nevertheless reaffirmed "its determination" to continue the dialogue with the government, while denouncing "the logic of revenge" which would have motivated, according to him, this court decision which poses "a risk major on the process" of discussion.
Corsican right-wing opposition politicians from the "Un soffiu novu" party also called on Saturday to continue the dialogue with the government.
The Minister of the Interior, who had pledged in March to discuss the future of the island, up to potential autonomy, had set up a strategic committee in July, four months after the deadly attack in prison of Corsican independence activist Yvan Colonna, another member of the Erignac commando sentenced to life imprisonment, who had sparked violent demonstrations on the island.
This consultation cycle should be spread over a year, with one meeting every six weeks in Paris. After a first meeting in mid-September on the "economic and social model" of Corsica, the second, towards the end of October, should focus on "financial speculation, town planning and housing" and the third, planned "before the end of 2022", on "the Corsican language and culture".