French lawmakers vote to include stripping of nationality for convicted terrorists in constitution

9th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

Lawmakers in France's lower house of parliament on Tuesday narrowly voted through a highly controversial proposal to amend the constitution to strip people convicted of terrorist offences of their French nationality.

The measure, passed by 162 votes to 148 with 22 abstentions, followed weeks of debate after it was proposed as part of a set of measures by President Francois Hollande in the wake of the jihadist attacks in Paris on November 13 that killed 130 people.

The nationality measure has strong public support but has deeply divided Hollande's ruling Socialist Party.

Christiane Taubira resigned as justice minister late last month over her opposition to it and Hollande's former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has publicly condemned the amendment.

Socialist lawmakers, those from former president Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing Republicans party and the centrist party UDI party, voted in favour of the measure, but Socialist fringe parties and most of the ecologist lawmakers were opposed.

Lawmakers will vote on Wednesday on the collective package of measures proposed by Hollande. They voted on Monday in favour of the other key measure in the package, the move to enshrine the state of emergency in the constitution, giving the security forces greater powers.

The level of support for the measures will be closely watched because for them to be fully adopted, they require not only the support of the lower house of parliament and that of the upper house, or Senate, but also the backing of a three-fifths majority of Congress -- the name given to the body formed when both houses meet at the Palace of Versailles to vote on revisions to the constitution.

Earlier Tuesday, parliament overwhelmingly voted to extend the current state of emergency by another three months.

Rights groups say police are abusing their powers under the state of emergency, but the government argues that it is an essential step to protect the nation at a time when France could face another jihadist attack.

© 2016 AFP

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