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French premier proposes vote on Afghanistan troops

French premier proposes vote on Afghanistan troops

France's prime minister has proposed a parliamentary vote on whether to keep French forces in Afghanistan, his office said Friday, as a new poll showed most of his compatriots want the troops pulled out after 10 died in a vicious ambush.
The legislature, dominated by President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party, is nearly certain to approve a continuation of the French presence in Afghanistan.
Sarkozy himself vowed to keep up the fight against terrorism despite Monday's attack outside Kabul, the deadliest for international forces there in years.
But the vote would be an important gesture toward those who questioned Sarkozy's decision in April to reinforce France's force by 700 to about 2,600 troops. Critics said he caved too easily to U.S. pressure for NATO allies to bear more of the burden in increasingly violent Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon will propose to the presidents of each house of parliament that legislators vote on the continuation of the French military mission in Afghanistan during an extraordinary parliamentary session that starts Sept. 22, his office said in a statement.
No date for the proposed vote was given.
The vote would be in line with a constitutional amendment passed last month requiring that any military mission longer than four months be submitted to parliamentary approval.
The ambush prompted French media and opposition Socialists to question France's mission in Afghanistan.
France's lower house of parliament said Friday the country's defense and foreign ministers would appear Tuesday before a panel to answer lawmakers' questions about the incident. In a statement, the National Assembly also said a delegation of lawmakers from across the political spectrum would go to Afghanistan soon as part of a parliamentary investigation into the attacks.
A survey in the daily Le Parisien on Friday showed 55 percent of respondents think France should leave the NATO mission fighting the Taliban, compared with 36 percent who say they should remain.
The survey, by the CSA polling agency, was conducted nationwide with 1,008 people on Thursday. No margin of error was given.
Sarkozy, though, has remained firm in his commitment. At a funeral ceremony Thursday for the 10 victims, the French leader said, "We don't have the right to lose there," saying losing the fight against terrorists in Afghanistan would be "a defeat for France."
The last 10 of the 21 French soldiers wounded in Monday's attack returned Friday to France. Eleven soldiers with more serious injuries arrived on Wednesday.


Updated : 2021-04-17 11:25 GMT+08:00