International brief ~ France amends constitution to allow EU referendum

[JURIST] In Monday's international brief, France's National Assembly [official website in French] met today in joint session with the country's Senate [official website] at the historic Palace of Versailles to approve an amendment to the French constitution [official text] that would permit the nation to hold a referendum on approving the proposed European constitution [official website]. The amendment was made necessary after the French Constitutional Court [official website] held that the nation's current constitution could not legally coexist under the proposed EU constitution. French President Jacques Chirac [official profile] is scheduled to announce the date of the referendum, expected to take place in late May or early June, later Monday. While most polls show the majority of French citizens in favor of the European constitution, anti-EU activisits have been arguing that a vote for the EU constitution is a vote for the inclusion of Turkey into the European Union [official website], an event most French are opposed to. Historically, French citizens have also used national referendums to express displeasure with the current administration. Parliament voted for the amendment 730 to 66, with 96 abstentions. Read the official French parliament dossier on the amendment [in French]. BBC News has more.

In other international legal news ...

  • Officers of South Africa's National Defense Force [official website] has alleged that Sudan [government website] is purposefully delaying the deployment of peacekeeping troops to the country in accordance with the mandate from the African Union [official website]. Rear Admiral Edward Ratala, director of operations for the AU peacekeeping force, has alleged that Sudan's creation of no-fly zones that prohibit transport of the troops, as well as the requirement for visas and passports from the Sudanese government which they haven't granted are part of a planned effort to delay the deployment of the peacekeeping troops. South Africa has stated that is will be sending few if any of its women troops to the area due to concerns about clashes between "religous traditions" and South Africa's equal oppurtunity policy towards women in the military. The Sudan Tribune has local coverage.

  • Nepalese police arrested members of 17 different protesting groups on Sunday. The protests were organized by the Nepali Congress [advocacy website], a pro-democratic advocacy group that has loudly objected to the the steps taken by the Nepalese government [official website] since the dissolution of the democratic elements of the government by King Gyanendra [BBC profile] on February 1 of this year. The majority of the protests were organized by the National Student's Union, the youth division of the Nepali Congress. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage [JURIST Countries archive] of Nepal. Kantipur Online has local coverage.

  • Former US President William Clinton [official profile] visited Taiwan for the first time Sunday since he became President in 1993, calling on both Taiwan and China to put aside their differences and "work together for common economic goals." Clinton visited the tiny island nation as part of a tour of Asian countries and spoke at a conference of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy [advocacy website]. He actually flew directly to Taiwan from China, an unheard of event until earlier this year. China [government website] expressed displeasure at the visit, reiterating its position that Taiwan is an renegade province that is still part of mainland China's control. Taiwan walks a fine line between existing within the status quo, and pushing for full, internationally recognized independence, a move which China states will result in war. The Taipei Times has local coverage.


 

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