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French parliament approves extension of emergency powers to suppress riots

[JURIST] The French Senate [official website, in French] on Wednesday approved a three-month extension [legislative materials, in French] of emergency powers for local governments still struggling to control rioting around the country. The Senate's approval came a day after the lower house approved the extension that had earlier won approval in the cabinet [JURIST report]. The powers, granted earlier this month [JURIST report] and derived from a 50-year-old law [JURIST document], allow local authorities to impose curfews, prevent public gatherings and search homes. In a sign that the violence was abating, only 163 cars were burnt Tuesday night, down from a high of 1,400 in a single night during the nearly three weeks of violence that have troubled France. Opposition parties opposed the extension, but President Jacques Chirac [official profile] said the emergency powers were only temporary and should only be used where necessary. Authorities believe that the violence, which largely has occurred in crowded and poor suburbs outside Paris, has been fueled by racial tension, while members of Chirac's party suggested that polygamy played a role [Le Monde report, in French] by leaving many children without a father figure in overcrowded conditions. BBC News has more.

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