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France parliament approves participation in NATO operations in Libya

The French National Assembly [official website, in French] on Tuesday voted 482 to 27 [materials, in French] to authorize France's continued participation in NATO operations in Libya. The military intervention began on March 19 in response to violent reactions from Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] after pro-democracy protests erupted February 15, 2011, in the eastern city of Benghazi. A 2008 reform measure requires parliamentary debate and voting for any military operation ordered by France's president four months after the order is handed down. The debate focused on the cost of the operation [France 24 report], with many voters having concerns that the cost of the operations would exceed the military budget. Both the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party and the Socialist party [party websites, in French] supported authorization. The Senate will likely vote on the measure later Tuesday evening.

Participation in military operations in Libya has been the focal point of contentious debate in the US. The US House of Representatives [official website] in two votes in June sent contradictory messages [JURIST report] over authorization of US military operations in Libya, voting down 123-295 [roll call vote] a resolution [HJ RES 68] that would have authorized further operations in Libya, and later voting down 180-238 [roll call vote] a measure [HR 2278] that would have defunded the operations, save for rescue and intelligence efforts to assist NATO. Obama disagrees with certain members of Congress regarding his legal authority to continue military operations in Libya. Obama's position is that he is not in violation [JURIST report] of the War Powers Resolution. His office maintains that US activities in Libya do not amount to "hostilities" because the US is only playing a supporting role in the NATO-led mission pursuant to and limited by the UN Security Council Resolution authorizing military action in Libya to protect civilians. But earlier in June, it was reported that Obama came to this conclusion overriding the legal interpretations [JURIST report] of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel [official websites]. Last month, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) [official website] had threatened to defund the mission after sending Obama a letter earlier in the month warning him that he was within five days of violating the War Powers Act. Also last month, Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Walter Jones (R-NC) [official websites] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking to enjoin further action in Libya. Obama's report endorsed a pending resolution [bill materials] that would provide some congressional support for continued efforts in Libya, though not approval of declaring war. The report also detailed that the US has spent USD $716 million and will spend $1.1 billion by the end of September.

For more, see JURIST's Feature on the Libya Conflict.

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