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
National

Train selfie star who got kicked in the…

  A 22-year-old Canadian man who posted a video of himself getting kicked in the head by a train conductor is set to cash in…

National

Call of Duty hoaxer blamed for $100K SWAT…

A heavilly-armed SWAT team and an army of police officers stormed a Long Island home fearing a grisly double homicide – only to find it…

National

Minnie Driver tweets naked celebrity snap to 'shut…

Actress Minnie Driver has responded to bitchy critics who sniped about her bikini body by Tweeting a naked picture of herself. The 44-year-old star of…

National

American middle classes no longer world's richest (guess…

America's middle classes are no longer the richest in the world – having been overtaken in the wealth stakes by their Canadian counterparts. For almost…

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

The Word

What we learned from the premiere of 'True…

Does watching someone's marriage implode make for great TV? The show runners at "True Tori" think Tori Spelling's heartbreak is hot stuff indeed.

NHL

Lundqvist, Rangers take control as Flyers falter in…

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist turned away 31 Flyers shots to give the Blueshirts the series edge with a 4-1 victory Tuesday nigh

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

NBA

Breaking down the Sixers top draft options

With the NBA Playoffs now in full force, there’s only one thing on the mind of Sixers fans at the moment -- the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.

MLB

Metro one-on-one: Q&A with Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere

Charlie Manuel used to say that the Phillies go as Jimmy Rollins goes. Well, Ryne Sandberg might have a new Phillies catalyst, Ben Revere, in his midst.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.