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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 19:28 GMT 20:28 UK
Singing MP baffles Paris parliament
French deputy Jean Lassalle
Making his point in song

French deputy Jean Lassalle stood up and broke into song on Tuesday in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament in Paris.

The bizarre musical interlude came as Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy began to speak on decentralisation during government question time.

"It's a very nice song from the Pyrenees, a love song, a song of friendship, a song of peace," the deputy from the southwest told France 3 television later.

But the reasons for the action - which provoked deputies' laughter and the wrath of the Speaker - could hardly have been guessed from the lyrics.

Mr Lassalle said 23 gendarmes due to guard the Somport tunnel between France and Spain were to be housed in the town of Oloron-Ste-Marie on the grounds that their wives would get bored in the small village of Urdos.

Urdos is the village closest to the tunnel and the MP took exception to the decision.

French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy
The minister looked on bemused

"So there are territories that are from now on unworthy of receiving employees of the Republic, and this is really unacceptable," Mr Lassalle complained to France 3.

But the singing deputy was unrepentant about his choice of method for the protest.

"It isn't forbidden to express oneself in the way one feels is best," he said.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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