France’s state of emergency may last months

Hollande to propose changes to constitution such as increased surveillance and stripping citizenship amid safety threat.

French President Francois Hollande observes a minute of silence at the Sorbonne University in Paris to pay tribute to victims of Friday''s Paris attacks
Hollande said that 'Barbarians who want to disfigure France will never succeed' after deadly attacks in Paris [Stephane de Sakutin/Reuters]

French President Francois Hollande will present a bill to extend the state of emergency in France, as well as propose severe amendments to the constitution in light of a recent wave of attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people.

The French leader said on Monday, in an exceptional joint gathering of parliament, that he would make the proposals on Wednesday and parliamentarians would vote on them before the end of the week.

Friday’s “acts of war … were decided and planned in Syria, prepared and organised in Belgium [and] perpetrated on our soil with French complicity”, he said, speaking in Versailles, south of Paris.

“I have asked the prime minister to prepare constitutional amendments,” he added.

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Those amendments include exceptional measures such as stripping the citizenship of convicted terrorists, increased surveillance, and “more sophisticated methods” to curb weapons trafficking.

He proposed measures to speed up the expulsion of foreigners considered a threat to public order, strip binational citizens who carry out acts hostile to national security of French citizenship, and bar binationals considered a terrorism risk from entering French territory.

“We must change our constitution to act against terrorism,” he said.

He also announced an increase in police recruitment and a halt to layoffs in the army during the 50-minute speech.

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Paris, said: “The new constraints in effect limit civil liberties in France, but Hollande is trying to persuade French people that these are essential if he is to be able to protect the nation against the kind of attacks we saw last Friday.”

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Six coordinated attacks in the French capital late Friday night, including at a concert venue and a sports stadium, were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

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The proposed amendments will be raised because France is in a “state of siege”, Hollande said, and could transfer some powers from civilian authorities to military authorities.

Hollande also called for more effective controls of the European Union’s external borders to avoid a return to national border controls and the dismantling of the bloc.

He added that a single, large coalition was needed to fight in Syria and that he would meet US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming days to discuss the issue, explaining that France was “talking to everyone” with regard to the Syrian conflict including Iran and Turkey.

The UN Security Council, he urged, should meet and adopt a resolution against ISIL .

The resolution should express the determination of the international community to fight against terrorism and “should not be to contain, but to destroy” ISIL.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies