With threat ‘very high’, French govt set to extend state of emergency

Paris: President Emmanuel Macron wants a sixth extension of France’s state of emergency since the Paris attacks of November 2015, his prime minister said on Wednesday, adding that the terror threat “remains very high”.
The new president, elected on May 7, also wants legislation to boost the powers of the security forces, Edouard Philippe said. “France and the United Kingdom are fighting the same enemy,” Philippe said after a meeting of his defence council. “The terrorist threat remains, in Europe, in our two countries, at a very high level.”
Macron is seeking a new extension of the state of emergency, which expires on July 15 after being extended “to preserve our democracy” — referring to France’s just-ended presidential election and upcoming legislative polls.
The president’s office earlier said he was seeking to extend the state of emergency until November 1. The measures allow security forces to monitor suspects and carry out searches without warrants, place suspects under house arrest, and ban public gatherings.
They were first imposed after the worst-ever terror attacks on French soil struck Paris on November 13, 2015, leaving 130 people dead.
Then president Francois Hollande declared that France was “at war” and deployed troops to patrol the streets.
Currently, some 7,000 troops are supporting police, Philippe said on Wednesday, adding that their number could rise to 10,000, with an additional 60,000 reservists standing by.
The extensions of the state of emergency, with rationales including ensuring the protection of the Euro 2016 football tournament and this year’s elections, have met with little public opposition.
But in December last year the left-leaning judges’ union called the measures a “lasting drug” and the outgoing Socialist justice minister, Jean-Jacques Urvoas, said “getting accustomed to this unusual situation would pose a risk to our democracy of normalising the exceptional.”— AFP