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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
France offers Corsica new deal
City of Bastia
Corsica's assembly has voted to seek autonomy
France has announced plans for a new constitutional status for the Mediterranean island of Corsica, which has long been troubled by separatist violence.

In a joint radio and television interview, Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin said he planned to visit Corsica next Monday to put forward proposals for decentralising power.

He said he hoped the people of the island would be able to vote on them in a referendum before the end of June.

He has indicated that the proposals are linked to a plan for decentralisation in France in general.

A controversial attempt by France's former left-wing government to give Corsica greater autonomy was declared unconstitutional by the country's highest court.

But in March, the French parliament approved constitutional amendments by which the country's 22 regions and 96 departments can choose greater autonomy.

Corsica's own assembly voted at the end of February to seek autonomy.

Moves to grant Corsica some level of autonomy have been prompted by decades of low-level violence by separatist militants.

Last October, 14 bombs exploded across the island ahead of a visit by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.




SEE ALSO:
Corsica rattled by bombs
19 Oct 02  |  Europe
Court throws out Corsica deal
17 Jan 02  |  Europe
Q&A: Corsican devolution
29 Aug 00  |  Europe
Corsica's hopes for peace
14 Aug 00  |  Europe


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