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France government brings in curfew powers against urban violence


PARIS, Nov 8 (AFP): The French government Tuesday approved giving curfew powers to regional authorities to stem urban violence that has raged for 12 nights, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said after a cabinet meeting.
The decision was taken at a meeting of ministers chaired by President Jacques Chirac.
The measure will also allow police to be able to carry out raids when they suspect weapons are being stored in the poor city suburbs that have been at the centre of the unrest, Sarkozy said.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told national television late Monday that the curfew powers would be invoked under a 60-year-old law first brought in as an unsuccessful attempt to quell an insurrection in Algeria, at a time when the north African country was a French colony.
Villepin said authorities would be able to impose them in areas "where necessary" to restrict the movement of people and vehicles and to set up perimetres around certain troublespots.
He also said that 1,500 police and gendarme reservists would be deployed as reinforcements for 8,000 officers already on the ground, but ruled out any army intervention.
A town mayor near the epicentre of the riots, in the northeastern Paris suburb of Raincy, already imposed a municipal curfew from Monday to "avoid a tragedy".
Suburban youths quoted by Le Parisien newspaper said the emergency measures "won't change anything". "This isn't going to solve things," one said. "More repression means more destruction... more cops is just provocation."