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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
Corsica to vote on autonomy
City of Bastia
Separatists said they had carried out recent attacks on the island
People on the Mediterranean island of Corsica will vote on their future status in a referendum on 6 July, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has said.

"The time has come for the government to assume its responsibilities in offering to Corsica a strategy for action, development and peace," Mr Sarkozy said on a visit to the island with Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

Mr Raffarin has indicated that the proposals, for a territorial assembly in the capital Ajaccio, are linked to plans for decentralisation in France in general.

But the leader of a Corsican nationalist coalition Corsica Nation, Jean-Guy Talamoni, said in an interview with the France Two television channel there was no agreement on the proposals, which he said lacked shape and substance.

"I can't quite see the usefulness of participating in this ritual gathering and of adding our voices to this kind of chorus which is inevitably going to be marked by discordant notes," he said.

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

A controversial attempt by France's last 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.

At the weekend, one of the main separatist groups on the island said it had carried out 14 attacks against government targets there between late February and late March.

The Corsican National Liberation Front (FLNC) said in a statement quoted by the Associated Press news agency: "These actions constitute a clear and timely response to provocations of the state, to recent arrests, to police pressure exerted on nationalist militants."

France offers Corsica new deal
04 Apr 03  |  Europe
Q&A: French devolution
20 Nov 02  |  Europe
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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