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POLITICS

France creates ‘air bridge’ to evacuate civilians from Afghanistan

France will evacuate its first nationals from the fallen Afghan capital Kabul to a base in the United Arab Emirates by Monday evening, defence minister Florence Parly said.

France creates 'air bridge' to evacuate civilians from Afghanistan
US helicopters over the American Embassy in Kabul. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP

“We are planning to carry out the first rotation between now and the end of this Monday,” Parly said on France Info radio, adding there were several dozens of French citizens to be evacuated along “with people under our protection.”

“We have organised at the base we have in the United Arab Emirates the capabilities to receive the first evacuees,” Parly said.

These are for French nationals who remain in Kabul but also “people under our protection and who we are going to evacuate”, Parly said.

The French base in the UAE “will serve as a military hub to ensure the back and forth between Abu Dhabi and Kabul and then repatriation to France”, Parly added.

Diplomatic personnel are included among the dozens of people set to be evacuated, she added.

The priority is to “evacuate (Afghan) personnel who rendered eminent service to our country by helping us daily, and also doing the maximum to
provide protection to figures who defended the rights, human rights, journalists, artists, all those who stood for these values that we continue to defend around the world,” she said.

The military operation dubbed Apagan involves two French air force transport planes, a C-130 and A400M, which left France late on Sunday and early on Monday for the Emirates.

President Emmanuel Macron has convened a meeting of the country’s Defence Council and will address the nation on Monday evening.

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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