French ministers rebuff opposition call for Syria vote

Senior members of France’s ruling party rebuffed opposition calls for a parliamentary vote on whether to take military action against Syria, saying on Monday that lawmakers should respect the president’s constitutional right to decide on attacks.

President Francois Hollande’s demands for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be punished for an alleged chemical strike have left him out on a limb since Britain’s parliament voted against taking part in any action and U.S. President Barack Obama said he would seek Congress’s approval before any assault.

Hollande is the army’s commander in chief under the French constitution and empowered to order an intervention. His sole obligation is to inform parliament within three days of action starting.

Only if it were to last more than four months would he be obliged to seek parliamentary approval for it to continue.

With opinion polls showing up to two-thirds of the public would oppose intervention in Syria, several conservative, centrist and green politicians called over the weekend for France to hold a special parliamentary vote.

Health and social affairs Minister Marisol Touraine told Reuters there was no reason to do that. “There is a framework and we must respect it,” she said. “The issue is too serious to be opened up to political posturing.”

“In a complicated situation like this, we need to stick to principles, in other words the constitution, which does not oblige the president to hold a vote, nor even a debate,” foreign affairs committee chief Elisabeth Guigou, a veteran of the ruling Socialist Party, told France Info radio.

“I don’t see that holding a vote would make any sense politically,” she said, noting France would be left in an impossible situation if parliament voted in favor of action and then the U.S. Congress voted against.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls also said over the weekend that the constitution should be respected.

But Alain Juppe, foreign minister under conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy, said a vote was needed because the U.N. Security Council had not backed any attack on Syria.

“We’re in a specific context here. … It would justify a vote in parliament,” he said.

PM to unveil intelligence

Parliament is due to debate the Syria crisis on Wednesday.

The last time parliament voted on military action was in 1991 when then-Socialist president Francois Mitterrand sought its support for his decision to join the U.S.-led coalition in the Gulf War.

Guigou said doing nothing would signal to all authoritarian rulers that using chemical weapons against civilians can go unpunished. She acknowledged France would not act on its own.

“To give an intervention legality it would need to be carried out by a broad coalition,” she said.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters he would show parliament leaders evidence in a meeting on Monday proving that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in an Aug. 21 attack that Washington says killed more than 1,400 people.

A declassified French intelligence document published by the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche and confirmed as authentic by a government official said Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal included sarin, VX nerve agent and mustard gas.

Syria had about 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, one of the world’s largest such arsenals, it said. The agents could be delivered with long-range missiles, aerial bombardments or short-range artillery, it added.

A BVA opinion poll released on Saturday showed 64 percent of respondents opposed taking military action in Syria, 58 percent did not trust Hollande to conduct an operation, and 35 percent feared that strikes could set the Middle East “ablaze.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Local

Reports: Dead man pulled from water at Boston's…

A dead man was reportedly pulled from the water at Boston's Long Wharf Wednesday afternoon, according to the Boston Fire Department.

Local

Primark to make US debut in Boston

Dublin retailer Primark will make its U.S. debut with a store at the former Filene's site in Boston.

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC 'targeting' US international Mix Diskerud

Metro New York has learned Mix Diskerud has drawn “interest” from the expansion MLS side, NYCFC.

MLB

Statistics show plate approach for Red Sox has…

Statistics show plate approach for Red Sox has been off so far in 2014

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."