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Europe

Hollande to lay out plans after Paris attacks at joint parliamentary meeting

media French President François Hollande (C) and Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the Elysee on 14 November, 2015 Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

French President Francois Hollande will make a rare address to both houses of parliament on Monday following Friday's attacks in Paris. At an extraordinary congress to be held in Versailles, Hollande will address 577 MPs and 326 senators. Prime Minister Manuel Valls says France will have to deal with the risk of terrorism for a long time, and says there could be new attacks in the coming days or weeks.

The last time a French president called together both houses of parliament was in 2009, when Nicolas Sarkozy gave a speech about the financial crisis.

Speaking on Saturday, President Hollande said he convened Monday's congress to “unite the nation during this ordeal”.

He is expected to announce specific security measures, inside and outside of France. Watchers say he will expand on France’s Sunday night bombing of targets in Raqqa, the headquarters of the Islamic State group in Syria, and address France’s continuing intervention in the country. He is also likely to propose extending the state of emergency declared on Friday night for three months. Any extension beyond 12 days will need to be voted by parliament.

The president of the National Assembly, Claude Bartolone, has said Hollande will unveil the “different decisions that will be taken to ensure the security of the French people”.

Unity?

Security is the issue most likely to complicate Hollande’s call for national unity. The opposition has called for strong measures.

The Republicains have asked for a debate after the president’s address, to which Hollande has agreed. He spent Sunday meeting with the leaders of all political groups, including the far-right National Front.

Sarkozy, the Republicain party leader, said on Sunday that he is ready to work with Hollande as long as the president takes on some of his proposed measures, including a revision of France’s foreign policy, as well as “drastic modifications” of French security.

Sarkozy has notably called for the 11,500 people currently being tracked by police for radicalisation (who have so-called Fichier S files open on them) to be put under house arrest with electronic ankle monitors.

During the coming debate at Versailles, the head of each official political group will have ten minutes to speak after the president leaves.

Monday's extraordinary congress comes three weeks before regional elections in France.

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