France not to vote on Syria in parliament

Updated: 2013-09-03 04:15


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PARIS - French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Monday rejected opposition's calls for a parliament vote on the Syria crisis.

"It's up to the President of the Republic to decide whether a vote (of parliament), which our Constitution does not require, to take place on Wednesday," Ayrault said.

"There will be a debate without a vote because in any case the final decision will be taken by the president when the coalition will be formed," he added.

After unveiling an intelligence report on Syria during a meeting with lawmakers, Ayrault stressed, "It's not for France to act alone. The president is continuing his work of persuasion to bring together a coalition without delay."

Ayrault's remarks came after veteran politicians from the right wing and centrist parties pressed President Francois Hollande to seek a parliament vote on a possible strike against Syria.

Under France's Constitution, Hollande, who is also head of the army, can order any military action but has to inform the parliament within three days of its starting. Lawmakers' vote will be compulsory if the operation would last more than four months.

"France is determined to penalize the use of chemical weapons by Assad's regime and to dissuade with a forceful and firm response," Ayrault said.

"The objective is neither to topple the regime nor liberate the country... We believe that a political solution in Syria was possible," he added.

According to media reports, the French intelligence report showed forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were behind the alleged chemical attack in Damascus on August 21.

But the Syrian president denied the allegations.

In an interview with French daily Le Figaro, the Syrian leader warned that if Western countries made a military intervention in response to the alleged attack, they would risk igniting a "regional war" in the Middle East.