PARIS: The French government announced plans Saturday to extend a national state of emergency until after elections next year, citing a heightened risk of jihadist attacks coinciding with polls.
The security measures—in force since attacks in Paris that killed 130 people in November 2015—will be debated in parliament Tuesday before their expected approval by the Senate on Thursday.
“This electoral campaign period, which naturally includes numerous public meetings and rallies, will also unfortunately incur an increased risk of attacks,” said newly-appointed French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
The state of emergency—which gives police extended powers of search and arrest—has already been renewed four times.
France was also left in mourning in July this year after a Tunisian jihadist rammed a truck through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers in the city of Nice, killing 86 people.
France will hold presidential elections in April-May 2017 and legislative polls in June.
The state of emergency must “encompass all electoral operations” Cazeneuve said at a meeting of the French cabinet, warning of the danger of those “who want to strike at the heart of our democratic values and republican principles.”
The extension until July 15 would also allow a new president—incumbent Francois Hollande is not seeking re-election—to assess security and prolong the state of emergency if necessary, Cazeneuve added.
Hollande’s tenure has been marred by the three major Islamist-inspired terror attacks— against Charlie Hebdo magazine in January 2015, then in Paris the following November and in Nice.
Cazeneuve, the former interior minister who coordinated the introduction of the state of emergency, took over as prime minister on Tuesday after Manuel Valls stepped down to seek the Socialist nomination for the presidency. AFP