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French Government Announces Steps to Restore Order


As France braced for another night of violence, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has outlined a series of long-and short-term measures to restore order in the country.

Prime Minister de Villepin said the first priority would be restoring order in the country after nearly two weeks of unrest that has spread from Paris-area housing projects to other parts of the country and abroad. A ministerial meeting scheduled for Tuesday will consider reinstating a 50-year-old law that will allow regional authorities to call for curfews if necessary. But Mr. de Villepin ruled out calls by some politicians for the army to come in and establish order.

Right now, Mr. de Villepin said, the crisis is mostly in the interior of France's gritty housing projects. And it will be up to regional officials, or perfects, to decide how to handle things. But he said France is not yet facing a situation where bands of thugs are taking over.

The French Prime Minister's remarks came as officials announced a new tally of violence on Monday. Police reported that a bus and three cars had been torched Monday night in the outskirts of the southern French city of Toulouse. Violent incidents have also been reported elsewhere in the country. And a hospital reported the first death from the violence -- an elderly man who was attacked on Friday and died from his injuries.

The unrest has been ongoing ever since two youths of African origin were accidentally electrocuted as they hid from what they thought were police chasing them. Police deny having pursued them.

In a televised interview on TF1 television Monday night, Mr. de Villepin vowed the families of the two youngsters would get the full truth behind the incident.

And he outlined a series of measures to improve the chances of other ethnic immigrant youngsters living in the country's low-income housing projects. Among them: better educational opportunities, apprenticeships and training programs for youngsters living in neighborhoods where unemployment can be up to four times higher than the national average.

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