French plan for the suburbs runs into trouble
French President Nicolas Sarkozy appeared to be at odds with his outspoken urban affairs minister over the release of a master planPARIS, January 9, 2008 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy appeared to be
at odds with his outspoken urban affairs minister on Wednesday over the
release of a master plan to help struggling youth in high-immigrant suburbs.
The plan promised by Sarkozy during his election campaign was set to be
unveiled on January 22 in the Lyon suburb of Vaulx-en-Velin, ostensibly
addressing many of the ills that led to the explosion of violence in the 2005
But Sarkozy on Tuesday said he planned to unroll his government's proposals
for the poor suburbs at a later date, in early February, and perhaps not in
"This doesn't change anything for us," said a press official for Urban
Affairs Minister Fadela Amara, a leftist and a well-known campaigner for
women's rights who joined Sarkozy's government in May.
Amara, a woman of Algerian origin who grew up in a housing project, "will
present an outline" of the plan as scheduled, said the official.
The urban affairs minister launched a nationwide consultation four months
ago to collect proposals on how to improve life in the low-income "banlieues,"
or suburbs, where descendants of African and Arab immigrants say they are
treated like outcasts in French society.
Le Monde newspaper quoted an adviser to the minister, Mohamed Abdi, as
saying that Sarkozy's office had asked Amara to "beef up her proposals, in
particular on jobs and discrimination."
The report said the plan's recommendations had run into trouble during a
protracted process of inter-ministerial review and that little financing was
available to carry out the proposals.
An unnamed source said the finished product would bear little resemblance
to the "Marshall Plan for the suburbs" that Sarkozy had promised during his
campaign for office.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Sarkozy said the plan would be "extremely
ambitious" and would focus on "people rather than places."
France's suburbs remain tense since the 2005 riots, which largely pitted
suburban youths of immigrant background against police.
The Paris suburb of Villiers-le-Bel witnessed a flareup in violence in
November, before hundreds of police officers were dispatched to restore order.