Extension would be the fifth since provisions were implemented after 2015 Paris attacks
Prime Minister says state of emergency is needed to protect upcoming elections
France’s Parliament is to vote next week on a six-month extension of a state of emergency to ensure the protection of upcoming presidential and general elections, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Saturday.
The extension would be the fifth since the extraordinary provisions came into place in the wake of the Paris attacks in November 2015.
Cazeneuve said public meetings and gatherings associated with the campaign “can unfortunately create a context of augmented risk of terrorist attacks for those who want to hit us at the heart of our democratic values and republican principles.”
“It is thus necessary, in the eyes of the government, to include the whole electoral period in the renewal time that we ask for,” he added.
The state of emergency was extended in July after scores were killed when a large truck plowed through a Bastille Day crowd in Nice in what authorities called a terror attack. It was followed by a thwarted ISIS plot to attack Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Last month, then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the provisions would likely be extended to give the extra powers delegated by emergency laws “to protect our democracy” during the April-May presidential vote.
Valls has said that authorities were monitoring around 15,000 people in France who they believe are in the process of radicalization and warned of hundreds of French jihadists fighting in Iraq and Syria.
The provisions giving police additional powers in terror investigations were first implemented after a series of attacks left 130 people dead throughout Paris on November 13, 2015.
The terrorists struck in coordinated attacks at the Stade de France, outside the Petit Cambodge restaurant, in the Boulevard Voltaire, the Bonne Biere and the Belle Equipe cafes.
At the Bataclan theater, midway through a concert by US rock band the Eagles of Death Metal, 90 people were killed after ISIS-linked gunmen opened fire on the audience and detonated suicide vests.
On Saturday, Cazeneuve said the new extension was “absolutely indispensable in order to protect our citizens.”
The emergency provisions had allowed law enforcement agencies to carry out thousands of property searches and arrest more than 500 people, he said.
By extending the state of emergency beyond the vote, Cazeneuve said, “we allow the President and Parliament that will come from the next elections to have the necessary time to evaluate the situation before deciding themselves on a possible additional renewal.”
Anger at the spate of terror attacks has been linked to a steep rise in xenophobia; according to France’s National Commission on Human Rights, there were 429 reports of attacks on, and threats against, Muslims in the country in 2015 – a rise of 223% over the previous year.
Human Rights Watch said in February that the state of emergency has led to “abusive and discriminatory raids and house arrests against Muslims” and created economic hardship, stigmatized those targeted and traumatized children.
CNN’s Laura Goehler, Simon Cullen, Océane Cornevin and Ben Marcus contributed to this report.