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    A member of the RAID (Search, Assistance, Intervention, Deterrence) French police unit gestures near the Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse, on March 16, 2017 following a shooting that left eight people injured

    France Toys With Lifting State of Emergency in 'Populist Pre-Election Move'

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    The French Justice Minister's statement about a possible lifting of the state of emergency in France is merely a populist pre-election move, French presidential candidate Didier Tauzin told Sputnik France.

    In an interview with Sputnik France, General Didier Tauzin, a current French presidential candidate from the party Rebuilding France described the French Justice Minister's statement about a possible lifting of the state of emergency in the country as nothing more than a populist pre-election move, aimed at convincing people of the effectiveness of the fight against terrorism.

    Earlier this week, Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas announced that France had "created the conditions that make it possible to exit the state of emergency, without weakening ourselves or remaining helpless in the face of the threat of terrorism."

    The 14-month state of emergency was introduced in response to the terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015, at six locations in and around Paris, including the popular Bataclan nightclub. The coordinated Islamist attacks took 137 lives, including those of the seven shooters, and left at least 368 people injured, almost 100 critically.

    Police outside the International Monetary Fund (IMF) offices where an envelope exploded in Paris, France, March 16, 2017
    © REUTERS / Philippe Wojazer
    Police outside the International Monetary Fund (IMF) offices where an envelope exploded in Paris, France, March 16, 2017

    According to reports, the state of emergency, which has been extended multiple times over the past year, was observed to be limiting freedom of movement in the country. Among other measures, under the state of emergency, French police were given the power to forbid travel to any citizen at any time.

    The current extension period is set to expire on July 15, although no official date has been given for the withdrawal of restrictions.

    Speaking to Sputnik France, General Tauzin said that all this reflected a new political move, given that a state of emergency had never been felt in France and that special services and police "took concrete measures."

    "I think that the attempt to lift the state of emergency on the eve of the elections is not so harmless. This is a political maneuver aimed to try to convince people that the government has acted effectively in the fight against terrorism. Some tension, maybe, was removed, and some symptoms were alleviated, but the reasons have not gone away, and this is important," he said.

    Another French presidential candidate, Paul Mumbach, told Sputnik France that he does see sufficient grounds for the statement of Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas.

    "Locally, it is not very noticeable what has changed in comparison with what the situation was like in previous times. After all, significant restrictive measures were taken [after a state of emergency was introduced]. Maybe we are not being told something, so we do not understand why he [Urvoas] made this statement now. Honestly, we would like clarification," Mumbach said.

    Speaking to Sputnik France, Alain Rodier, an expert on counter-espionage and deputy director of the French Research Center for Intelligence, lashed out at the current French authorities' desire to tout their merits.

    He recalled that "France is preparing for the presidential elections, and then there will be elections to the National Assembly, which will lead to the emergence of a new political majority."

    "I do not know, of course, the results, but the administration will change. A statement from the French Justice Minister means that 'a state of emergency can be lifted in France after the elections',"Rodier said.

    "Personally, I believe that he [Urvoas] is going too far. Such a statement means that the outgoing administration left a complicated dossier for the incoming government, while at the same time attributing to itself success in its decision. Politically, this is a doubtful step," he added.

    Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande has stated that a bombing at the IMF Paris office and a school shooting in Grasse on March 16 justified maintaining the state of emergency in France.

    A parcel exploded earlier that day at the IMF office in Paris, injuring an employee, in what Hollande described as a terrorist act. Just hours later, a teenager opened fire at a high school in Grasse, wounding a headmaster and two students.

    "All this allows me… to justify the state of emergency," Hollande said in Correze. "It is declared in certain situations due to certain risks, and I think that we must absolutely maintain it until July 15," Hollande said.

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    state of emergency, movement, government, terrorism, measures, attempt, elections, Jean-Jacques Urvoas, France
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