Paris plans limited Corsica autonomy

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The Independent Online

The French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, unveiled a two-stage plan yesterday for limited autonomy for Corsica, despite misgivings in his own centre-left coalition and outright opposition from the right. The proposals are a huge departure from the tradition of monolithic government from Paris.

The French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, unveiled a two-stage plan yesterday for limited autonomy for Corsica, despite misgivings in his own centre-left coalition and outright opposition from the right. The proposals are a huge departure from the tradition of monolithic government from Paris.

In an attempt to end 20 years of political violence on the island, Mr Jospin is proposing a single political and administrative body for Corsica, with limited independent law-making powers. Until the next French presidential election in 2002 there would be only minor changes, with the Corsican assembly allowed to modify certain French laws as long as the parliament in Paris approved.

After 2003-04 there could be constitutional changes to allow one administrative and legislative body for the island, with slightly wider powers. The proposals are to be discussed by the Corsican regional assembly next Friday.

Centre-right parties in France have criticised Mr Jospin's proposals, saying they will, in effect, surrender power to the political and criminal mafias that control the island and encourage "me too" demands from Brittany, the Basque country, French Catalonia and Languedoc.

Similar criticism has been made by Mr Jospin's coalition ally, Jean-Pierre Chevÿnement, who leads a socialist splinter group that believes fiercely in a strong, unified government for all parts of France. Earlier this week he said Mr Jospin "knows where I cannot go".

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