Hollande abandons plan to strengthen state of emergency

2016-03-30 18:10
French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris. (Stephane de Sakutin, Pool via AP)

French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris. (Stephane de Sakutin, Pool via AP)

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Paris - French President Francois Hollande has decided to abandon a bill that would have revoked citizenship for convicted terrorists and strengthened the state of emergency, because of a deadlock in parliament.

In a rare address to reporters following the weekly Cabinet meeting, Hollande said on Wednesday he had no choice. France's two houses of parliament disagree on the bill and a compromise "seems out of reach", he said.

"I very much regret that attitude."

He had submitted the two proposals days after the November 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead.

The Socialist president's proposal to revoke the citizenship of convicted terrorists who had dual nationalities prompted a heated political dispute, with the far right applauding the idea while some on the left denounced it as a divisive measure.

Opponents of the measure say it would create two classes of citizens - dual nationals who could lose their French citizenship and French citizens who cannot - in opposition to the principle of equality set out in France's constitution.

The rule could not be applied to people who are French citizens only, as France's obligations under international law prevent it from leaving a person stateless.

The same bill aimed at introducing the state of emergency into France's Constitution in order to adapt the state of emergency to a long-term threat.

Under the current law from 1955, the state of emergency lasts 12 days and can be extended for an indefinite period by a vote of the parliament.

The "threat remains higher than ever", Hollande said, adding he is committed to "ensure our country's security and protect the French from terrorism".

The country's state of emergency, swiftly declared by the government on the night of the attacks, was recently extended to May 26. It extends some police powers of search and arrest and limits public gatherings, among other changes.

Some human rights defenders say the proposal to revoke citizenship of dual nationals implicitly targeted France's Muslim community, the largest in Western Europe - including many who were born in France but also hold citizenship in Morocco, Tunisia or Algeria.

About 50 human rights and anti-racist organisations and unions had launched a petition to reject the measure.

"That measure proposed by the far right to target the French of Maghreb and African origin would have put in jeopardy the principle of equality", the anti-racism organisation SOS Racisme said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Read more on:    francois hollande  |  france  |  paris under attack

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