France’s government, smarting from accusations that it did not do enough to avert last week’s deadly truck attack in Nice, has urged lawmakers to extend a period of emergency rule that gives police greater search-and-arrest powers.
Under fire from opposition politicians and jeered by crowds at a remembrance ceremony on Monday, prime minister Manuel Valls wants lawmakers to back a three-month rollover of the emergency regime imposed after the Bataclan attack last November.
The move comes as the Promenade des Anglais along the seafront of the Riviera city reopened after last week’s attack in which Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ploughed a truck into crowds of Bastille Day revellers, killing 84, before being shot dead.
Two members of the government sounded a conciliatory note ahead of last evening’s parliamentary debate on the matter.
Justice minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas left the door open to a six-month rollover of emergency rule in line with demands from right-wing politicians, saying the demand was “not incongruous” given that it would encompass the anniversary of the attacks of last November.
Defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said Mr Valls was ready to take other proposals on board concerning the specific powers emergency rule would comprise.
“This is not just symbolic,” said Mr Le Drian. “We can see from what happened in Germany that the threat is everywhere,” the minister said, alluding to news of yet another attack overnight in Germany in which a man hit train commuters with an axe, seriously injuring four.
The number of French people who believe François Hollande’s government is up to the task of tackling terrorism plummeted to 33% after the attack in Nice, from confidence ratings of 50% or more in the wake of the two other major attacks in early and late 2015.
France imposed emergency rules after the November 13 attacks in which Islamist militants killed 130 people in Paris, giving the police powers to search homes and place people under immediate house arrest without advance clearance from judges.
The Interior Ministry said hundreds of unlicensed weapons were unearthed, helping foil several terror plots. The bill to be debated in parliament last night was also intended to grant police and spy services greater powers to dig into suspects’ computers and mobile phone communications.
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