The French parliament has passed legislation toughening France’s immigration policy.
The amended bill was backed by both President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance party and Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN).
The vote divided Mr Macron’s party, and Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau resigned in protest.
Leaders of a third of French regions said they would not comply with certain measures in the law.
A previous draft was rejected by parliament last week when the National Rally as well as the left voted against. In response, the government redrafted the bill, making some of its provisions tougher.
The new legislation makes it more difficult for migrants to bring family members to France and delays their access to welfare benefits.
It also bans detaining minors in detention centres.
A controversial provision discriminates between citizens and migrants, even those living in the country legally, in determining eligibility for benefits.
The tougher version appealed to right-wing parties, who backed it on Monday.
Ms Le Pen welcomed the amended bill, calling it an “ideological victory” for the far-right.
“This is our bill,” said Eric Ciotti, the leader of the right-wing Republican party. He called it “firm and courageous”.
But left-wingers said Mr Macron was enabling the far-right. “History will remember those who betrayed their convictions,” Socialist party leader Olivier Faure said.
32 of France’s 101 departments, including Paris, said they would refuse to implement the provisions of the law on benefits for non-citizens.
The French vote came hours before an EU agreement to reform the asylum system across the bloc’s 27 member states.
The new pact, agreed by EU governments and European Parliament members, includes creating border detention centres and enabling the quicker deportation of rejected asylum seekers.
Hailed as a landmark agreement by Parliament President Roberta Metsola, the new system allows asylum seekers to be relocated from southern member states, which have the highest numbers of arrivals, to other countries.
It still has to be formally approved by the Parliament and member states.
The new French legislation exposed divisions within the governing alliance. 27 MPs voted against while 32 abstained – almost a quarter of pro-Macron MPs.
Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau, who was a member of the Communist party in his youth, stepped down in protest at the immigration law.
“Some measures in the bill make me very uncomfortable,” said Yaël Braun-Pivet, the president of the lower house of parliament and a member of Mr Macron’s party.
The bill would have passed if Ms Le Pen’s party had abstained, though not if it had voted against. The government pointed to the size of its majority to argue that it did not depend on National Rally votes.
Speaking after the vote, the prime minister accepted some measures in the law might not be constitutional.
“We will ask the Constitutional Council,” she told French radio, referring to a top court which upholds the constitution’s principles.
Human rights groups denounced the new reform as the most regressive immigration law for decades.
Mr Macron’s party lost its majority in parliament in elections in June 2022. Since then, the government has frequently found itself unable to win votes in parliament.
Order CBN to honour Letters of Credit– SINET to Tinubu, NASS
Amidst several hardships facing the Nigerian populace, the Social Integrity Network, (SINET) has urged President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the leadership of national assembly to compel the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.
The group also urged the Federal Government to make further clarification concerning a statement credited to the CBN Governor on issues regarding the alleged and well-publicized revelations of a $2.4 billion forex trading fraud.
SINET recalled that “On February 5, 2024, the governor of CBN made this declaration in both his interactions with Senate committees and his interview on a national television, following the engagement of Deloitte Management Consultant to conduct a forensic investigation where he claimed that the said amount was uncovered.
A statement issued on Monday by SINET national coordinator, Ibrahim Issah, disclosed that “On the contrary, we wish to unequivocally state that these claims lack merit and do not take into account the consequences they will have on businesses, public perception, or the economy of our cherished nation and its implication on forex both at home and abroad.”
According to him, “Without sentiment, the claim is completely falsehood and unacceptable as he, the CBN governor, failed to consider its economic implications. It is pertinent to state that genuine businessmen and women across the country, borrowed Funds from commercial banks, some with interest rates as high as 30% to secure forex from the CBN through their respective commercial banks since CBN does not sell the dollars to individuals directly.
“The same funds have been deposited with CBN for the past one and half years for forwards allocated for which the Apex Bank is now claiming were fraudulent transactions. May we remind Mr. Governor that while the CBN allocated the forwards after collecting the naira for each forward allocated, the commercial banks used these same forward contracts as a hedge and issued Letters of Credit (LCs) to their various customers against their offshore credit lines and also as a sovereign guarantee to their offshore banks which stand unpaid till today as a result of the failure of CBN to honour the various forward contracts.
“May we also remind our CBN Governor that as a result of their failure to honour these contracts, the outstanding foreign loans continue to accrue interest (post-negotiation charges), which the commercial Banks are passing to their customers: the same customers you say do not have a genuine claim.”
The statement further stressed that, “The public would like to ask Mr. Governor the following questions: What will happen to the foreign bank that is expecting their payment to be paid back? What will happen to the businessmen and women who had borrowed Naira from commercial Banks and paid the same into the CBN account for the purchase of forex for over eighteen months? Who will bear the interest charged on borrowed funds locally? Who will bear the charges running against the offshore lines used in establishing Letters of Credit? What will happen to the businesses? What will happen to the employees that are dependent on the survival of the businesses that CBN is trying to kill?
“We call upon the senate president and, in fact, the president and Commander In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to call the CBN governor to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.
“Let us state categorically that the CBN is killing businesses by cancelling the forward contracts that were sold to them about 18 months ago at the rate of N450/dollar and now selling the same funds to the commercial banks and directing the bank to sell the money at the rate of 1,500/dollar to the same businesses who initially had a forward contract at the rate of N450/dollar.
“May we also remind Mr. Governor, that failure to honour these forward contracts is taking commercial banks longer time to clean the offshore lines already used for establishing Letters of Credit against which shipments have been done and payment made to LC beneficiaries by the offshore banks. The delays of the commercial banks to settle their Forex obligations to their offshore banks is making our country risk to be very high.
“Lastly, the public will like to call on the coordinating minister for the economy, Mr. Wale Edun to engage the CBN regarding this issue of undelivered forward contracts because at present in Nigeria, almost 60% of companies in the manufacturing sector have been closed due to the volatility of Forex in Nigeria in order to avoid the other 40% from also closing down.
“This will go a long way to help the few remaining manufacturing companies still in operation in Nigeria and also encourage the new investors that the president and commander in-chief of the federal republic is trying woo to bring their investments to Nigeria.”
APC To Yahaya Bello: Stop Confusing The Party, No Vacancy For National Chairman
The leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has told the immediate-past governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello that there is no vacancy in the office of the national chairman of the party.
The national publicity secretary of the party, Felix Morka warned the former Kogi governor to stop confusing the party, saying the position of the national chairman is currently occupied.
Morka handed down the warning while addressing newsmen at the national secretariat of the party.
The posters of the former governor were seen on major streets in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially around the federal secretariat and on walls and fences of structures around the APC national secretariat along Blantyre Street, Wuse 2, Abuja.
The bold picture of the former Kogi state governor is adorned with the inscription, “APC Next Level. Alhaji Yahaya Bello as APC National Chairman. Leading the Change, Building a Stronger APC.”