Government makes state of emergency official

9th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 9 (AFP) - The French government on Wednesday formally issued a decree declaring a state of emergency in most of the country's major cities to tackle a two-week wave of urban unrest.

PARIS, Nov 9 (AFP) - The French government on Wednesday formally issued a decree declaring a state of emergency in most of the country's major cities to tackle a two-week wave of urban unrest.

A second decree published in the official gazette listed the areas affected by the state of emergency. They include the entire Paris region and around 30 towns and cities such as Toulouse, Marseille, Nice, Rouen, Strasbourg, Lille, Dijon and Avignon.

It followed a cabinet decision Tuesday to invoke a 1955 law which permits the authorities to impose curfews, ban public meetings and issue house-arrest warrants.

The state of emergency officially came into effect at midnight and only one city -- Amiens in the north -- invoked the new powers overnight, imposing a curfew for unaccompanied children under 16.

The emergency law, which was originally drawn up to quell disturbances at the start of the France's long war in Algeria, can be extended after 12 days.

It permits state-appointed governors -- or prefects - to "forbid the movement of people and vehicles in places and times fixed by decree" and ban "meetings likely to provoke or fuel disorder".

The law also allows the authorities to "order house searches at any time of day or night" and to control "press and publications of all kinds" -- though prime minister Dominique de Villepin told parliament Tuesday this last clause would not be invoked.

Article six allows the interior minister to issue house arrests for people "whose activity is dangerous for public safety."

There has been criticism of the government for resorting to a measure that recalls one of the worst periods of modern French history and has particularly painful associations for Algerians, who were the original law's main targets.

Street violence has raged through France's poor suburbs since October 27 as youths mainly from the country's large Arab and black minorities have torched cars, destroyed public property and attacked police.

Tuesday night appeared to show a slight easing off of the trouble, with 617 vehicles torched across the country compared to nearly double that the previous night.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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