France President Macron set to extend state of emergency

The new president is seeking a new extension of the state of emergency which expires on July 15

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Parisians have grown accustomed to seeing the army patrolling sensitive sites play

Parisians have grown accustomed to seeing the army patrolling sensitive sites

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President Emmanuel Macron wants a sixth extension of France's state of emergency since the Paris attacks of November 2015, his prime minister said Wednesday, adding that the terror threat "remains very high".

The new president, elected on May 7, also wants legislation to boost the powers of the security forces, Edouard Philippe said, two days after the Manchester concert suicide bombing that claimed 22 lives.

"France and the United Kingdom are fighting the same enemy," Philippe said after a meeting of his defence council. "The terrorist threat remains, in Europe, in our two countries, at a very high level."

Macron is seeking a new extension of the state of emergency, which expires on July 15 after being extended "to preserve our democracy" -- referring to France's just-ended presidential election and upcoming legislative polls.

The president's office earlier said he was seeking to extend the state of emergency until November 1.

The measures allow security forces to monitor suspects and carry out searches without warrants, place suspects under house arrest, and ban public gatherings.

They were first imposed after the worst-ever terror attacks on French soil struck Paris on November 13, 2015, leaving 130 people dead.

Then president Francois Hollande declared that France was "at war" and deployed troops to patrol the streets.

Currently, some 7,000 troops are supporting police, Philippe said Wednesday, adding that their number could rise to 10,000, with an additional 60,000 reservists standing by.

The extensions of the state of emergency, with rationales including ensuring the protection of the Euro 2016 football tournament and this year's elections, have met with little public opposition.

But in December last year the left-leaning judges' union called the measures a "lasting drug" and the outgoing Socialist justice minister, Jean-Jacques Urvoas, said "getting accustomed to this unusual situation would pose a risk to our democracy of normalising the exceptional."

'The new normal'

In January, Amnesty International released a report titled "Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe", warning that states of emergency such as that observed in France are part of "the new normal".

The London-based rights group noted that the emergency laws allowed French police to put environmental activists under house arrest ahead of the UN Climate Conference in Paris in 2015.

Nearly 70 people are currently under house arrest in France under the emergency rules, compared with nearly 300 in the wake of the November 2015 Paris attacks.

Of them, around 20 have been required to report to police every day for the past 15 months.

Over the objections of rights groups, lawmakers approved a new law in 2015 granting the state sweeping powers to spy on its citizens.

But Hollande was unable to get through parliament a measure that would have stripped bi-national terrorists of French nationality in certain cases.

Macron will propose a bill to help security forces "outside of the state of emergency," his office said Wednesday.

Philippe said the new legislation would ensure heightened protection for major cultural, sporting and other events.

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