French PM extends state of emergency over terror attack

Prime Minister Manuel Valls says France’s state of emergency imposed after last year’s terror attacks in Paris is likely to be extended.

He said the measures were needed to “protect our democracy“.

Mr Valls was speaking on the first anniversary of the attacks by Islamist militants, in which 130 people died.

President Francios Hollande is marking the first anniversary of the Paris attacks by unveiling plaques commemorating the victims.

Starting with the Stade de France and ending with the Bataclan concert hall, Mr Hollande and the Mayor of Paris will visit the six sites targeted in the attacks, paying tribute to the victims.

On Saturday – the eve of the anniversary of the massacre – the Bataclan reopened with a performance by British artist Sting.

The singer told the audience, including survivors of the attack, that they had to honour the dead and celebrate life.

A minute’s silence was held at the renovated venue for those killed in the attacks on the French capital by jihadists from so-called Islamic State.

On 13 November 2015, a group of jihadists launched co-ordinate attacks on the Stade de France and restaurants filled with people on a Friday evening.

The Bataclan concert hall was the scene of the deadliest attack. Three gunmen entered the venue and fired on the crowd, killing 90 people.

Mr Valls said the state of emergency would be extended because there was a risk of “attacks of the kind we saw in Nice“.

France’s state of emergency was extended for six months in July after a lorry driver ploughed through a crowd, killing 84 people in Nice on Bastille Day.

The measures give the police extra powers to carry out searches and to place people under house arrest.

However, an official inquiry found that the state of emergency was only having a “limited impact” on improving security.

Mr Valls said the country must remain safe during the presidential and parliamentary election campaigns which are scheduled to take place in France between April and June next year.

French pollsters have warned next year’s elections could shake-up the currently fragmented political system.

Socialist President Francois Hollande, who has yet to announce if he is standing, is the most unpopular president in French history. Polls show a leftist candidate has little chance of winning next year.

Pollsters also predict far-right leader Marine Le Pen will emerge as one of the top two candidates in the first of a two round election process.

Ms Le Pen, said that France’s current government is weak, saying Mr Valls and Mr Hollande had failed to address the issue of immigration which in her view was directly tied to national security.

Mr Valls dismissed Ms Le Pen’s rhetoric, calling her discourse “traditional of the far right.”

When a country is attacked it is understandable that people ask questions. But my responsibility is not to follow option polls. We passed two anti-terrorism laws. The far-right voted against them,” Mr Valls said.

Although Ms Le Pen is thought to have little chance of winning the election, her populist politics have appealed to her growing constituency in similarly to US president elect, Donald Trump.

She said that Donald Trump’s victory in the US has boosted her own chances of being elected president next year.

BBC/Hauwa M.