May 24. 2024. 5:48

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French parliament chief warns of rising intimidation of deputies

The president of the French National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, has warned of the growing number of threats and pressure on parliamentarians, which she said was linked to the ongoing tension surrounding a planned reform of the country’s pension system.

During an impromptu press briefing on Tuesday (7 February), the president expressed her concern about the increasing violence in public debate, including in the assembly, particularly in the context of the pension reform, which plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years.

The parliament began reviewing the reform on Monday (6 February), in a particularly restless atmosphere.

Among the latest events, the president of the social affairs committee, Fadila Khattabi, who is leading the debate, received a letter containing racist insults and threats against her and her family. According to several media reports, the letter contained an unidentified powder.

Shortly before the debate began, Antoine Vermorel-Marques, a deputy for the conservative Les Républicains (LR / EPP), shared a message telling him to “watch out” when it comes to voting and notifying him that he was being “closely watched”.

Then, during the first session, at least three female MPs from the far-right Rassemblement National (RN / ID) received prank calls claiming that a relative of theirs had been taken to hospital. The callers have not yet been identified.

The aim of the calls was probably to make the MPs leave the Palais Bourbon, the seat of the National Assembly, at a time when their presence was essential for the validity of a referendum motion that the group had tabled.

In addition, on Tuesday morning, activists from the anti-globalisation organisation Attac tagged the door of the National Assembly and the statue of the Law’s pedestal, in front of the Palais Bourbon, with washable ink.

In addition, the offices of several MPs have been vandalised over the last few months and Braun-Pivet called these acts “threats to democracy”.

She said that “these actions, these pressures, these intimidations are unacceptable” and stressed that the institution “will stand by each MP threatened in the line of duty”, urging every elected representative who has been pressured to file a complaint.

The president also voiced hope that “calm and serenity” would be soon restored because “debates must be held peacefully in our chamber”.

Given the content of the threats, Braun-Pivet confirmed to the press that “the link with pension reform is clear”.

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