MS Risk Blog

French President Seeks Extension of Emergency Powers in Wake of Manchester Attack

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French President Emmanuel Macron disclosed Wednesday shortly after holding talks with security chiefs that the French parliament will be asked to extend by several months emergency powers, which were first introduced in 2015, in order to counter the threat of terrorist attacks. The move comes just days after a terrorist attack in Manchester, United Kingdom, killed 22 people.

President Macron, who reviewed national security with defense chiefs following Monday night’s suicide bomb attack on a concert venue in northern England, disclosed on Wednesday that he would ask lawmakers to extend the special powers, which are due to expire in mid-July, until 1 November 2017. A statement released by the Elysee palace disclosed that President Macron told his government to devise additional measures for countering the security threats beyond the emergency powers and produce a draft bill to put to parliament in the coming weeks. He also gave instructions for a task force comprised of all the French security services to be swiftly established to coordinate actions against attacks. Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb disclosed that French authorities had learned from British investigators that the suspect in the Manchester bombing, who has been identified as British-born Salman Abedi, had travelled to Libya and probably Syria.   Speaking to BFMTV, Collomb disclosed “today we only know what British investigators have told us – that someone of British nationality, of Libyan origin, suddenly, after a trip to Libya and then probably to Syria, becomes radicalised and decides to carry out this attack.” Asked if he believed Abedi was supported by a network, Collomb stated: “this is not known yet – but maybe. In any case, (he had) links with Daesh (IS) that are proven.” In the wake of the attacks that have occurred in France, the performance of France’s intelligence services have come under close scrutiny, with Collomb stating that Britain could just as easily have been the target then as well.

Three weeks into his presidency, and facing parliamentary elections next month, President macron will want to be seen as being decisive in dealing with the threat of attacks after his presidential rivals portrayed him as being weak on security matters. The attack in Manchester, which has been claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, killed 22 people and wounded dozens more, striking a chord in France where more than 230 people have died in the past two years in attacks carried out by Islamist militants. The Manchester attack had parallels with the November 2015 Islamist attack on the Bataclan concern hall in Paris – one of several bombings and shooting on the same night in the French capital. IS also claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.

The emergency rules, which give French police wider search and arrest powers, were first introduced after Islamist gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in and around Paris in November 2015.