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French president scraps contentious anti-terror bill

30 March 2016 20:05



French President Francois Hollande has abandoned a controversial bill to change the constitution to strip militants convicted of terror offences of their French citizenship.

“A compromise appears out of reach on the stripping of terrorists’ nationality,” Hollande said in a brief televised statement on Wednesday after the two houses of the French parliament failed to agree on the initiative amid four months of fierce debate.

A section of the opposition has been “hostile” to any constitutional revision, he said, adding, “I deeply regret this attitude.”

The proposal’s withdrawal is a major blow for Hollande, who had introduced it in the wake of the terror attacks in and around the French capital city of Paris last November. The Takfiri Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the assaults, which left 130 people dead and 350 others injured.

People gather in front of a makeshift memorial at the Republic square in Paris, France, on December 13, 2015, a month after the November terror attacks. ©AFP

Hollande also wanted to enshrine in the country’s constitution a state of emergency adopted following the November attacks.

France has been under a state of emergency over the past months, giving authorities extra powers to keep people in their homes without trial and search houses without judicial approval.

The anti-terror bill divided Hollande’s Socialist party and led to the resignation of former justice minister, Christiane Taubira, in January.

“I have decided to close the constitutional debate (but) I will not deviate from the commitments I have taken … to ensure the security of our country,” the French president stated.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front (FN), denounced the decision to scrap the constitutional reform as “a historical failure.”

“Francois Hollande fails to have his own words taken seriously. He and his government are the only ones responsible for this failure,” Le Pen said.

Hollande’s Socialist Party, however, accuses the country’s right-wing opposition for what it describes as the “sad spectacle.”

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