France likely to extend state of emergency to ‘protect democracy’ during elections – PM

The state of emergency in France will most likely be extended because of the ongoing terrorists threat. The country is entering the presidential election campaign period, the French PM said on the anniversary of Paris attacks which claimed the lives of 130 people.

“It is difficult today to end the state of emergency,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the BBC's Hardtalk show. “Especially since we are going to begin a presidential campaign in a few weeks with meetings, with public gatherings. So we must also protect our democracy.”

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Initially, the state of emergency was introduced by President Francois Hollande immediately following the Paris attacks on November 13, 2015. After the horrific attack in Nice this summer, which left 84 people dead, the National Assembly extended the state of emergency for another six months until the end of January 2017.

But as France braces for presidential elections sometime in April or May, the Prime Minister asserted that the government should retain the extra powers delegated by emergency laws to protect the public.

Following the last extension in July, the authorities were allocated emergency powers to make house arrests without a court order, as well as conduct searches without a court authorization.

Furthermore, law enforcement is allowed to conduct “follow-on searches” if the original search produced material of a possible terror-related activity. The powers also allow for government agencies to step up the surveillance of telephones and computers.

Emergency powers also allow the agencies to restrict domestic and foreign travel for terror suspects.

“This state of the emergency device allows us to make arrests, administrative checks which are effective...so yes, we are probably going to live a few months more with this state of emergency,” Valls said in Sunday’s interview.

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The politician warned that danger of attacks similar to the one that happened in Nice is still a reality in France.

“That is to say some individuals who are driven directly by the internet, by social networks, by the Islamic State group, without having to go to Syria or Iraq,” he elaborated.