Minister rejects Nice security cover-up claim

France’s interior minister is protesting accusations the government tried to cover up security failings the night of the Bastille Day attack in Nice that killed 84.

The woman in charge of video surveillance in Nice on July 14, Sandra Bertin, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that government officials told her what to write in her report and that she should mention the presence of police she hadn’t seen.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement that he is suing for alleged defamation and said he is committed to uncovering the truth about what happened. Cazeneuve acknowledged that no national police were protecting the beachfront promenade targeted in the attack.

Meanwhile, French president François Hollande’s popularity rating has inched up from near record lows this month, despite heavy criticism he received over security issues since the Bastille Day attack in Nice, two polls showed.

Some 19% of those surveyed in a BVA poll said they had a favourable opinion of Hollande, up from a record low of 18% in June.

The poll for Orange and Itele was conducted on July 20-21, days after a delivery man in Nice killed 84 people when he drove his truck through a crowd of revellers leaving a July 14 fireworks display on the promenade.

A July 22-23 Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche showed a bigger improvement, with those satisfied with the president rising three percentage points to a five-month high of 17%.

It had fallen to a near record low of 14% in June as Hollande’s government faced a series of strikes and violent street protests over contested labour reform.

Hollande’s government has ordered an inquiry into policing on the night of the attack in the Riviera city in a bid to dispel criticism that security was inadequate.

Known for tough talk on security and immigration issues, conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy saw his rating jump four percentage points to 24% in the BVA poll.

That helped narrow some of the ground between him and Alain Juppe, his main rival to be the conservative Republicains’ candidate for president.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigrant Front National party, saw her rating in the BVA poll rise three percentage points to 27 percent after the Nice attack.

The attack led Hollande to reverse plans to end a state of emergency in place since the November 13 attacks in Paris and instead extend it another six months, which lawmakers approved.

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