France to extend emergency due to persistent terror threat

Paris, Dec 10 (IANS) France will extend by six months the state of emergency that has been in effect since the November 13 attacks in Paris, the country’s new Prime Minister said on Saturday.

“The extension of the measure complies with the persistent terror threat as the French electorate heads to the polls for the presidential and legislative elections between April and June,” Efe news agency quoted Bernard Cazeneuve as telling the media.

The measure, which still needs to go to a parliamentary vote, would allow sufficient time for the country’s next president and parliament to assess the security situation, Cazeneuve said.

The current state of emergency is due to expire in January, but due to the resignation of Prime Minister Manuel Valls — who announced he will run as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election — Cazeneuve’s new government had to review the measure.

Though the extension of the state of emergency is expected to receive wide legislative backing, the measure has been criticiced by some groups including civilian organisations who consider it inefficient in the fight against terror and a violation of basic rights.

Cazeneuve said that the state of emergency, which has been extended five times since it was put in place, was indispensable for ensuring the highest level of protection for French citizens.

The PM said the terror threat in the country remained high, adding that since the start of the year security forces had thwarted 17 attacks and arrested at least 420 persons linked to terror networks.