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International brief ~ France sets date for EU constitution vote

[JURIST] In Friday's international brief, France [government website] has announced that it will hold a national referendum on the European constitution [official website] on May 29. France just recently approved an amendment to its constitution [JURIST report] to allow such a referendum. French President Jacques Chirac [official profile] is hoping to capitalize on the recent 'yes' vote on a similar referendum in Spain. Opposition to the EU Constitution includes liberals who feel it is not broad enough, and moderates who are concerned about granting the EU too much control over France's internal affairs. Current polls indicate that 63% of the French population favor the EU Constitution. Le Monde has local coverage [in French].

In other international legal news ...

  • The Togolese National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) has set the date for the national presidential elections as April 24. The elections were constitutionally mandated to occur within 60 days of the death last month of President Gnassingbe Eyadema, but the Togo military's imposition of Gnassingbe's son, Faure Gnassingbe [BBC profile], led to the precipitous passage of a constitutional amendment that allowed Faure to remain in office for the remainder of his father's term. Intense regional and international pressure eventually led to Faure stepping down and resulted in the re-adoption of the original constitutional format. Although opposition groups have expressed willingness to participate in the election, they are now protesting that the timeframe proposed by the CENI is unrealistic and cannot possibly result in a fair and transparent vote. Faure Gnassingbe is running as the candidate for Rally for the Togolese People [party website in French], the party his father founded. Regional organization ECOWAS [official website] has stated that it will be fielding election monitors to ensure 'a just and transparent vote'. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Togo [JURIST Country news archive]. Read the official Togolese government news agency announcement of the election date [report in French].

  • Reports are circulating among officials responsible for the organization of elections in Afghanistan [government website] that September 17 will be the new date for a national poll. The parliamentary elections, required by the Bonn Agreement {text]governing the transition of Afghanistan, have continually slipped past previous scheduled dates in light of concerns about fairness and security in holding the elections. September 17 is viewed as the earliest possible date by which to have all the necessary requirments met. Officials are still working on determining the number of districts and the electoral boundaries that should exist in the new democratic scheme. BBC News has more.

  • The Duma [government website in Russian], the lower house of the Russian parliament, passed legislation Friday tightening security on airline flights into and out of Russia. The Law on Amendments and Addenda to the Russian Legislation in Connection with Measures for Security of Flights creates an organization cooperation between national police forces and airport and airline security forces. The legislation, most immediately prompted by apparent bombings of two Russian airliners last August [CNN report] also allows for independent inspection of airplanes and passengers by local law enforcement agencies. Itar-Tass has local coverage.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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