French MPs halt Covid debate over Macron’s remarks about unvaccinated

Paris, Jan 5 (EFE).- The French Parliament suspended a debate on the introduction of mandatory vaccine passports for public spaces early Wednesday with lawmakers demanding explanations from President Emmanuel Macron after a controversial interview was published in which he said he wanted to ‘piss off’ the unvaccinated.

An article by Le Parisien published an interview with Macron in which he made the remark.

Speaking of unvaccinated people, which he said were a minority, Macron said: “I really want to piss them off, and we will continue to do this – to the end.”

The comments have infuriated lawmakers and prompted the president of the session, conservative Marc Le Fur, to suspend the debate for the second time.

Macron’s opponents in the Assembly have described his remarks as “unworthy” of a president in a session overrun by boos.

“I’m in favor of the vaccine pass but I cannot back a text whose objective is to ‘piss off’ the French,” president of the Republicans, Christian Jacob said.

The leader of the leftwing party La France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, tweeted that the “vaccination passport is a collective punishment against individual freedom.”

“When we have to convince, bring together, we do not insult!” communist party leader Fabien Roussel said.

The debate will resume on Wednesday at 15:00 local time (14:00 GMT) marking a third attempt by the National Assembly to assess the Government’s bill that seeks to introduce a mandatory vaccination passport that would severely limit the services in public spaces unvaccinated people would be able to enjoy, including restaurants and the use of transport.

The bill should get sufficient backing from centrist lawmakers, the majority in the chamber, conservatives and other groups on the left, but flaring tensions in recent days and imminent presidential elections have put the brakes on the debate.

The majority of MPs in parliament have defended Macron over the controversial statements.

Macron’s ally Christophe Castaner, president of the centrist En Marche group in the AN, said the French people needed “this clarity.”

Former prime minister, Édouard Philippe, one of the most popular politicians in the country and a supporter of mandatory vaccinations, added:

“The president sometimes explains himself in a familiar way. I think everyone has understood what he meant.”

The tumultuous launch of the debate will likely delay the implementation of the vaccine passports which had originally been slated for January 15.

On Tuesday France recorded 271,686 infections, the highest rate since the pandemic started, and a cumulative incidence rate in seven days that soared to 1,850 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. EFE


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