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French lower house passes bill allowing presidential impeachment

[JURIST] The French National Assembly [official website, in French], the lower house of the French parliament, passed by voice vote Tuesday a bill [text and materials, in French] authorizing the impeachment of a French president but otherwise conferring legal immunity on the person holding that office during his or her term. The bill had languished in parliament after being approved by the French cabinet three years ago; it comes forward as current President Jacques Chrirac approaches the end of his second term with a number of corruption cases [JURIST news archive] still looming over him. The bill does not extend immunity to a president after his term has expired, however.

The bill has drawn the support of presidential candidate Segolene Royale [campaign website, in French], three members of whose Socialist Party unsuccessfully tried to impeach Chirac [BBC report] in 2001, but her leading rival, conservative Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy [campaign website, in French] has not taken a public position on it. The legislation must now go to the Senate [official website, in French] and then - because it would change the French Constitution - to a special joint session of the French parliament expected in late February. AP has more.

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