Francois Hollande comes under pressure to allow French Syria vote

 

President François Hollande came under pressure yesterday to follow Barack Obama and David Cameron and allow a French parliamentary vote on punitive air strikes on Syria.

The Assemblée Nationale (lower house) will debate the alleged use of poison gas by the Syrian regime on Wednesday but no vote is planned. According to one interpretation of the French constitution, a parliamentary vote on military action is impossible until four months after the President of the Republic decides to act.

President Obama’s decision to delay military strikes and seek Congressional approval has, however, caused a potential domestic crisis for President Hollande. Several senior opposition figures yesterday backed away from or directly criticised the planned French participation in US air raids on Syria. They called on the government to put the intervention to a vote on Wednesday.

Jean-Francois Copé, leader of the main centre-right party, who had previously supported Mr Hllande, said no raids should happen until UN inspectors had reported. The first secretary of Mr Hollande’s Socialist party, Harlem Desir, accused him of adopting the “Munich-like” approach of French politicians who appeased Nazism in the 1930s.

However, dissenting voices can also be found in the centre, the far right, the hard left and within Mr Hollande’s Socalist ranks. Opinion polls suggest that popular opposition is growing and stands at around 64 per cent.

The interior minister, Manuel Valls, said yesterday that there was no question of France going it alone in air strikes on Syria if the US Congress voted against. “We need a coalition,” he said.

Opposition figures pointed out that this had put Mr Hollande in the “humiliating” position of having to wait for a US parliamentary vote before sending in the French military while refusing to allow a vote in France.

Mr Hollande had expected the air raids – including a substantial contribution by |France – to occur before Wednesday’s parliamentary debate in Paris. President Obama called him to say that he was postponing the strikes and seeking Congressional approval just before his announcement in the White House rose garden on Saturday.

The French government is expected to release today a four page synthesis of its own intelligence reports pointing to the responsibility of the Assad regime in the gas attacks on a Damascus suburb on 21 August. In an attempt to defuse the calls for a vote on Wednesday, the Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, has also called principal opposition leaders and the heads of the national assembly senate defence and foreign affair committees to a briefing this evening.

The interior minister, Mr Valls, said the calls for a vote on Wednesday were unconstitutional. He pointed  out that the wording of the Fifth Republic constitution stipulates that the President must “inform” parliament within three days of military action. The constitution goes on to say that a debate “can occur but it will not be followed by a vote.”  

Parliamentary approval is need only if the fighting continues for more than four months.

Mr Valls said the French constitution could not be “altered according to daily events”. He said Mr Hollande’s determination to act was “intact”. The “worst thing would be to do nothing…the face of a crime against humanity,” he said.

Defence sources say that that the French share in any attack would not be just symbolic or passive. France does not have Tomahawk cruise missile but it does have modern weapons which would allow it to attack selected targets in western Syria without sending its aircraft into heavily-defended airspace.

The sources said that France would probably deploy Rafale fighter-bombers from bases in France or Djibouti. These aircraft carry SCALP-EH high-precision missiles which can be fired from 300 kilometres (almost 200 miles) away.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel