Opposition debates state of emergency bill

15th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 15 (AFP) - The French parliament was on Tuesday to examine a bill extending for three months a state of emergency, aimed at quelling a wave of unrest which President Jacques Chirac said revealed a deep identity crisis.

PARIS, Nov 15 (AFP) - The French parliament was on Tuesday to examine a bill extending for three months a state of emergency, aimed at quelling a wave of unrest which President Jacques Chirac said revealed a deep identity crisis.

The government decided on Monday to ask parliament to approve an extension of the measure decreed on November 8, in order to prevent a resurgence of the rioting in poor city suburbs, which continued to subside overnight.

With both chambers of parliament dominated by the centre-right, the government bill was expected to pass swiftly through the lower house national assembly on Tuesday afternoon, followed by the upper house senate on Wednesday.

Chirac, who late Monday gave his first televised address to the nation since the start of the troubles, told the cabinet that the emergency powers allowing the imposition of curfews and other measures, were "strictly temporary".

National police figures showed the violence continued to subside overnight, 19 days after it erupted, with 215 cars burned -- down from 284 the night before and well below the 1,400 destroyed at the peak of the trouble. Seventy-one people were arrested, a figure police officials said was almost down to pre-riot levels. Police made 115 arrests Sunday night, bringing to more than 2,800 the number of arrests since October 27.

Few serious incidents were reported. In the central town of Saint Etienne, six buses went up in flames in an apparent arson attack, while three petrol bombs were thrown at a mosque in Saint-Chamond in the Massif Central.

In a symbolic effort to emphasise a return to normality, prime minister Dominique de Villepin made a televised visit to Aulnay-sous-Bois -- one of the worst hit areas of the northern Paris outskirts -- to convey a government message of "firmness and responsibility."

The state of emergency, decreed under a rarely-used 1955 law dating from the start of the Algerian war, authorises curfews, house-to-house searches and bans on public gatherings.

So far some 30 localities have been placed under nightly curfews for unaccompanied children under 16, and two temporary banning orders for public gatherings were imposed in Paris and Lyon over the weekend.

The leader of the main opposition Socialist group in the national assembly, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said on television late Monday he would urge Socialist lawmakers to oppose the bill.

The Green Party and the Communist Party have also said they intend to vote against.

The violence was sparked by the accidental deaths of two teenagers in an electrical sub-station in a Paris suburb. After raging in the Paris region for several days, it spread to poor high-immigration suburbs across the country.

More than 8,000 cars have been burned, scores of buildings wrecked and dozens of police hurt in attacks carried out mainly by Arab and African youths from dilapidated, out-of-town housing estates.

French authorities are expected in coming days to start deporting a number of foreign nationals convicted over the violence, despite fierce protests from rights groups and the opposition.

According to officials quoted in Le Figaro newspaper on Tuesday, around a dozen people stand to be deported.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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