France Extends Emergency Law as Terrorist Threat Remains High

  • Risks heightened ahead of 2017 elections, prime minister says
  • Emergency law was imposed after last year’s Paris attacks

The French government will extend until July 15 the emergency anti-terrorism measures due to expire at the end of January, as threats persist and may intensify in the run-up to next year’s presidential election, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after a special cabinet meeting.

The state of emergency is “essential” and has proven efficient in thwarting attacks,  he told reporters in Paris on Saturday. The terrorism threat risk remains at a “high level,” he said, and risks may increase as candidates campaign for office.

The measures, which give police greater powers to carry out searches, detain suspects and ban gatherings, were enacted after the Nov. 13, 2015, assaults by Islamic State militants that left 130 dead in and around Paris. The measures were extended for six months in July.

“The state of emergency is not permanent, it’s a lever we have to pull in the face of an imminent peril,” Cazeneuve said. The special measures have helped stop 17 potential terrorist attacks this year in France, he said.

Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in an interview with the BBC in early November that he expected the measures to be extended because of risks linked to next year’s presidential elections. Valls quit as prime minister this week after declaring his candidacy for president.

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